Build-a-Bear Effort Targets Tweens

CHICAGO Build-a-Bear Workshop aims for an older, tween target, playing up the ideas of fashion and imagination in a new campaign from agency Barkley.

The TV and online effort showcases the stores as forums for youthful self expression. Two TV spots, which broke this month, depict girls walking with their mothers in a zoo and on a street. As the girls see various animals—monkeys, lions, dogs, cats—they imagine different outfits on the creatures.

“[Tweens] are really into fashion,” said Brian Brooker, chief creative officer of the Kansas City, Mo., agency. “The basic strategy is Build-a-Bear is the world’s biggest closet.”

The campaign also includes a Web site,, where kids can see behind-the-scenes footage of the spots, profiles of the animals and a virtual animal dress-up activity.

The new campaign succeeds a two-year-old effort from the independent agency that depicted younger kids offering testimonials to the camera about the fun they had at Build-a-Bear. The idea to target tweens for the new campaign was a way to broaden the stores’ base, while still attracting younger kids.

“When you talk to tweens, you reach them and can appeal to younger kids at the same time,” Brooker said. “Younger kids are more into the emotional part of the Build-a-Bear experience. The older kids are more about the fashion.”

Build-a-Bear spent nearly $20 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.