Forgetting Your Shoes For A Good Cause

Going barefoot in the office is usually a faux paux – unless you’re an avid supporter of TOMS Shoes.

Yesterday marked the annual One Day Without Shoes event, which challenged people across the country to spend the entire day (or even a few hours) sans shoes. TOMS rose to fame in the cause world through its simple, but powerful, buy one, give one model. For every pair of TOMS Shoes someone buys, a pair is given to a child in need. Yesterday’s effort drew support from 250,000 people through more than 1,600 events around the world. How did they achieve such success?  Here are a few thoughts:

Low Barrier to Entry – Consumers didn’t have to contribute financially to take part in the effort, they simply needed to kick off their shoes for the day. This easy call-to-action allows both TOMS Shoes loyalists and non-customers to take part.

Wow Factor – Sometimes the best way to garner awareness is by causing a scene. A shoe-free day is less extreme than wearing nothing but an apron to work – which LUSH Cosmetics employees do once a year to make a statement about over-packaging – but is nonetheless an eye-catching spectacle for a good cause. And getting some celebrities, including Kristen Bell, Matisyahu, Morgan Spurlock and Heather Graham, to kick off their shoes for a day doesn’t hurt either.

Teaching Moment – TOMS was able to supplement its existing sales-based cause efforts with an educational, worldwide event to help inform the public about the risks millions face by living without shoes. The threats range from cuts and scrapes that can lead to infection to Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil. Suddenly, shoes are about more than just comfort and style. 

Personal Connection – The event helps bring participants closer to the issue through first-hand experience. Instead of discussing TOMS’ mission in the abstract, the organization gave consumers a way to experience the cause for themselves and gain appreciation for what life is like for the children the company serves.

Widespread and Grassroots – The success of the campaign is largely due to the hundreds of regional events across the globe within cities, college campuses and even elementary schools. The One Day Without Shoes Web site offered toolkits to help participants organize, promote and execute the local efforts.

TOMS Shoes has already established a cult following among socially conscious fashionistas and is slowly creating a movement with its simple rallying cry for the cause. By executing an engaging and powerful event, TOMS was able to reach a wider audience with the message and hopefully increase its band of loyal followers who will provide shoes to the world’s children, one by one.

Did you participate?  Tell us what you thought of the experience.


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