TOMS Expands Day Without Shoes to Accept Hashtags and Purchases

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TOMS became a global business icon by launching a new kind of socially responsible company. Even more impressive is how the brand founded by Blake Mycoskie finds new ways to extend its One for One business model each year.

Last week, TOMS completed its eighth annual One Day Without Shoes campaign, which started as a focus on big companies to help promote its Buy One, Give One program to donate a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair purchased. But this year, TOMS amped up the effort by donating of a pair of shoes for every photo of bare feet tagged on Instagram #withoutshoes—no purchase necessary.

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Jeff Bridges, Laura Dern and Pink were among the celebrities who did exactly that, along with hundreds of thousands of other people. TOMS also attracted the support of Clear Channel, which used its digital advertising spaces across the country to help raise awareness.

Mycoskie also brought the movement to China for the first time, by climbing the Great Wall of China barefeet with a handful of business, NGO and public-sector leaders, including UNDP representatives.

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In Haiti, he recently launched a venture to assist the country’s recovery to normalcy a full five years after a major earthquake.

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And in Syria, TOMS launched a program to help refugee children displaced by the region’s increasing war and strife—an effort that actually began in Oslo, where street artist Martin Whatson graffitied a wall of shoe boxes filled with special-edition TOMS shoes that were to be sold to raise money for the Syrian effort.

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Observing how successful the One for One business model has worked in turning TOMS into a social enterprise valued by some at $600 million, Mycoskie has approached other industries with a similar approach.

It’s also got a sense of humor—just watch this ActGIVEity Tracker spoof on wearable tech (which needs to become a real device or smartwatch app):

And watch out, Starbucks: Mycoskie has put a TOMS Roasting Co. coffee shop on Elizabeth Street in New York’s Nolita neighborhood, similar to his first such venture in Venice Beach, California. The brand pledges that for every cup of coffee sold, someone in the developing world will get clean water for a day.

“We want it to feel more like a gift to the neighborhood than a retail opportunity,” Mycoskie told the New York Observer. And, in a sense, a gift to the world.

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