Can you handle “One day without shoes” ?

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Have you ever heard about the brand Toms, a eight-years-old shoe company in US and a pioneer in the “one for one” spirit? Have you ever joined an event called “One day without shoes”? Have a read on this post and see if you will decide to join this event in 2015.

Toms is a for-profit company based in California that operates the non-profit subsidiary, “One for one” (originally called “Friends of Toms”, a program recruited volunteers to help in the shoe distributions in foreign countries). To describe its unique business model, Toms decided to trademark the phrase “One for one” for itself. When Toms sells a pair of shoes, then a pair of shoes will be given to a child who needs in Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, South Africa, Rwanda and the US. “One for one” is the business model that Toms has built since the very first beginning day of this company and this works so well. The company uses word-of-mouth, social media and events to promote its sales, and its business focus on social responsibility as well at the same time.

In year 2007 was the very first time when Toms launched their campaign called “One day without shoes”, one day event where participants do not wear shoes throughout the day. Contributors of this event involved AOL, Flickr, the Discovery Channel, parents, university students and staffs, over 500 retailers globally (in 2011), volunteers and young target customers.


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 The company aims to raise awareness of the impact of shoes to children in developing countries and bring customers to closer social responsibility and interaction with the brand. Their target market is young people, male and female, age 18-34, students or employed people and actively spread out the campaign. This is not an easy task but Toms had done so well in high profile events, university campuses marketing, temporary pop-up stores and social media. However, there is one more (smart) contribution via technical devices.

Understand that most of young people spend their time in front of computers, phone, laptops, Xbox and games, Toms Shoes partnered with Microsoft Advertising in 2009, a “Multi Screen Campaign” which is perfect fit for Toms target market. Microsoft Advertising developed a multi screen campaign that would allow TOMS to connect with its target consumers wherever they were online with technological devices or games or through any screen that consumers preferred. Microsoft allowed Toms to access to 2 important channels: Xbox Live and Massive in-game advertising.

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The Multi screen campaign went so well that its success satisfied both companies: connecting with target audience and driving awareness and registrations for the Toms event. The campaign not only gained awareness but also allowed Toms to reach 55% of all young residents in the US, where the main target market of Toms located.

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Ad recall and ad awareness increased rapidly. Specially the percentage of people who saw ads at 4 channels were 444% more likely to be familiar with “One day without shoes” event than people who were not exposed to the ad. And even people who were disposed to the ad at 1 channel were 78% more likely familiar with this ad.

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The first launched campaign was exceptionally successful. In the following years of 2010 – 2014, the company continue running more meaningful events and encourage thousands people joined in different cities. To go outside the online world, Toms encourages people to go without sandals, boots, sneakers, etc. for one day. The intention is still raising awareness and social responsibility, but in real experiences, to feel how children feel without shoes.

In 2010, 1600 events were held with 250,000 and more people joined: “One day without shoes in London”, “One day without shoes in Philippines”, etc. On a TV program, Demi Moore took of her shoes, then Jonas Brothers, Kristen Bell, and also lots of Twitter feedbacks on Toms live feed, YouTube Bloggers promoted for the campaign on their video blogs.



We can see that Toms has done beautiful marketing campaign, building brand awareness and brand recall so strong to their target customers. Using social media, events, Microsoft devices and YouTube channels helps them to spread out their reputation and encourage people to join the campaign for good cause. Also the long-term partnership with Microsoft Advertising is very wise decision based on their well understanding their target market. The key lessons that marketers should learn from Toms are:

  • Consistency between brand identity and brand messages
  • Understand target market well in order to choose the best digital communication channels to communicate with customers
  • Make uses of all available online tools such as social media, videos, blogs, ads on technological devices such as phones, laptops, Xbox,…
  • Encourage customers to join the company events by promoting values of the organisation/products/campaign such as for social responsibility and sympathy with children in developing countries
  • Touching customers feelings by using music in video clips, right music with the meaningful lyrics to spread a viral video online.
  • Encourage customers actively participate in social media to spread the campaign (similar with “The Dark Knight Rise” campaign in my previous blog post).

Personally, I already bought 5 pairs of Toms and I am so into “One for one” campaign that I would keep buying not only I love the shoes but also for good purpose that I could donate one or more pairs of shoes to children in needs. Hope you guys enjoy this post and keep sharing your thoughts about Toms campaign or any good marketing campaign that you know.




Microsoft Case Study: Toms – Multi screen campaign  


  1. The “One for one” campaign reminds me of the “one laptop per child” idea that was around a few years ago. It used a similar approach – buy one for yourself, and a laptop will be given to a child in Africa.



    1. Thanks for your comment Wags. Yes I have seen the “One laptop per child” program. I think they are both meaningful and successful. However, with Toms campaign, I reckon it would be more affordable and easier to purchase. As 50$/a pair of shoes would be much cheaper than $399/laptop. Beside, 2 types of products are so different and shoes would be easier and low-involvement purchase (compare to laptop). And I think Toms is doing well with this “one for one” model. I love their shoes as well. 🙂



  2. I remember seeing Tom’s “One Day Without Shoes” campaign on Instagram earlier this year and thinking how great of an idea it was and specifically how generous the larger “One for One” campaign is. I think this is a great example of a company branding itself really cleverly while simultaneously promoting the values of their organisation… as well as garnering some great social media coverage whilst their at it!

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  3. Love this post! Can’t believe I haven’t heard about this yet, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. What a great idea…social responsibility is huge at the moment, and it seems to be a way that many brand’s have been using to add value to their company. I’ll definitely look into buying some shoes too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    1. If you want to, you can join this event next year as well. I agree that the “social responsibility” idea caught my attention more than their design shoes and also make me feel positive about the brand. Power of media 😉



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