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Table of Contents
TOMS was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, inspired by a trip to Argentina where he saw extreme
poverty and health conditions, as well as children walking without shoes. at’s when he recognized the tradi-
tional Argentine alpargata shoe as a simple, yet revolutionary solution. e traditional shoe is normally a casual
at, that usually have a canvas or cotton fabric upper and exible sole mad of rope or rubber material molded to
look like rope. Worn by Argentine farmers for hundreds of years, alpargatas were the inspiration for the classic
style of TOMS. Mycoskie quickly set out to reinvent the alpargata for the U.S. market with a simple goal: to show
how together, we can create a better tomorrow by taking compassionate action today.
To realize this mission, Blake made a commitment to match every pair of TOMS purchased with a new
pair given to a child in need. One for One. “I was so overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people,
especially those who had so little,” Mycoskie said. “And I was instantly struck with the desire- the responsibility-
to do more.”
Mycoskie considered sustainability when creating TOMS, in that by starting a business rather than a
charity would help his impact last longer. In Mycoskie’s speech at the Second Annual Clinton Global Initiative,
he recalled that children without shoes were not only susceptible to health risks, but were also not allowed to
attend school. He noted one particular disease, Podoconiosis (also known as “Mossy Foot”), which is a soil-
transmitted diseased caused by walking in silica-rich soil and aects the lymphatic system of the lower legs. e
simple solution of shoes, miniaturizes health risks such as this. According to the TOMS Shoes web page, there
are over one billion people at risk for soil-transmitted diseases around the world, and a necessity as simple as
shoes can help prevent them. Mycoskie not only places an emphasis on giving shoes, but also educating others
on the importance of wearing shoes.
e TOMS Story
e TOMS Story
How TOMS Gives
During its rst year in business, TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes. Blake returned to Argentina later
that year with family and friends and gave back to the children who had rst inspired him. anks to sup-
porters, TOMS gave the One Millionth pair of new shoes to a child in need in September 2010. TOMS now
gives in over 20 countries and works with charitable partners in the eld who incorporate shoes into their
health, education, hygiene, and community development programs.
TOMS’ giving partners are made up of NGOs, charities, and non-prots already established and
working in the countries in which TOMS gives. eir expertise guides TOMS to give new shoes responsibly,
making sure there aren’t adverse socioeconomic eects, and to ensure that sustainable giving is possible. Giv-
ing shoes to the same children on a regular basis is the idea upon which TOMS was started, and is what truly
improves the lives of children and their communities.
Shoes and More
In addition to the alpargata-inspired Classics, TOMS oers several other styles. Cordones, the TOMS you
can wear with or without laces, as well as the Botas, are designed for both men and women. Stitch outs for
men, the Wedge and the Wrap Boot for women, and Youth and Tiny TOMS for children are also available, as
well as many vegan-friendly styles for all ages that use no animal byproducts. TOMS.com also carries Tees,
hats, and accessories that are also matched with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One.
Awards and Recognition
It didn’t take long for the world to notice this new approach to business - In 2007, TOMS was honored with
the prestigious People’s Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian
Institution. Two years later, Blake and TOMS received the 2009 ACE award by Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, which recognizes companies’ commitment to corporate social responsibility, innovation, exemplary
practices, and democratic values worldwide.
As of September 2010, TOMS has given over 1,000,000 pairs of new shoes to children in need around the
A Non-Prot Subsidiary
TOMS shoes is a for-prot company which also operates o of a non-prot subsidiary. Mycoskie made
TOMS a business rather than a non-prot because he felt he would be able to make a bigger impact, saying,
“I started TOMS with about half a million dollars of my own capital. If I would’ve taken half a million dollars
and just bought shoes to give to the kids, I would’ve been able to give shoes just once. I never would have
been as far reaching and sustainable as TOMS Shoes is now. If you take the option of starting a for-prot
business that gives back a large part of what it brings in versus a straight charity, you’re going to help a lot
more people with the for-prot business.”
Friends of TOMS is a registered 501(c)(3) non-prot aliate of TOMS Shoes. e organization coordinates
volunteer activities and all TOMS shoe drops.
Blake Mycoskie is the Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, and the man behind the growing One for
One movement. As of September 2010, TOMS has given over 1,000,000 pairs of shoes to children in need
through giving partners around the world.
A dynamic entrepreneur, Mycoskie has successfully started six businesses from the ground up. Aer being
recruited to Southern Methodist University to play tennis, Mycoskie started EZ Laundry, a door-to-door
laundry service aimed at fellow college students. e company soon expanded to seven colleges across the
Southwest with 40 employees and eight trucks. Aer selling EZ Laundry to his business partner, Blake trav-
eled to Nashville where inspired by the larger-than-life billbaords in Hollywood, set out to create an outdoor
media company aimed at the Music City’s leading country stars. Mycoskie’s renegade eorts soon drew the
attention of the industry giant, Clear Channel, who purchased Mycoskie’s remaining billboards in Nashville
and Dallas. With two successful companies already under his belt, Blake plunged himself into the world of
reality television. Teaming up with his sister, Paige, Blake competed on the second season of CBS’ hit sow,
e Amazing Race, coming just four minutes away from the $1 million dollar grand prize. is experience
inspired Mycoskie to create Reality 24/7, a cable TV channel dedicated to all-access reality news and pro-
gramming. Teaming up with Larry Namer, co-founder of the E! Entertainment Network, and Kay Koplovitz,
former CEO of the USA Network, Mycoskie raised over $2 million dollars for the project from venture capi-
talists and former reality stars. e buzz for Reality 24/7 was so great that Rupert Murdoch decided decided
to create his own all-reality network, thereby ending Mycoskie’s rogue eorts.
Now living in Los Angeles, Mycoskie teamed up with the creators of TracSchool.com to create DriversEd-
Direct, a behind-the-wheel training school featuring Hybrid cars and hip instructors. To help promote Dri-
versEdDirect, Blake created Closer Marketing Group - a Santa Monica based marketing rm specializing in
brand development and viral marketing.
It didn’t take long for the world to notice this new approach to business- in 2007, only a year aer its begin-
ning, TOMS was honored with the prestigious People’s Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National
Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. And two years aer that, TOMS and Blake Mycoskie were the
proud recipients of the Secretary of State’s 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) presented by Secre-
tary Hillary Rodham Clinton. e award celebrates companies’ commitment to corporate social responsibil-
ity, innovation, exemplary practices, and democratic values worldwide.
While running TOMS, Blake is a sought-aer speaker at campuses and conferences all over the country. He
is passionate about inspiring young people to help make tomorrow better, encouraging them to include giv-
ing in everything they do, from business practices to day-to-day decisions. His hope is to see a future full of
socially minded businesses, and consumers.
is unique vision for the future came into focus in 2006, when he witnessed the hardships facing children
growing up barefoot in Argentina. He felt a need to help, and the One for One movement was born. He re-
turned the following year with friends and family to hand-place 10,000 pairs of new shoes on children.
Blake has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, starting ve businesses before TOMS. His rst was a success-
ful national campus laundry service, which he later sold. Between business ventures, Blake competed in the
CBS primetime series, e Amazing Race. With his sister, Paige, Blake traveled the world and came within
minutes of winning the $1 million dollar grand prize.
TOMS receives a relatively substantial amount of media coverage. With the signicant ties to philanthropy,
media placement and coverage is not an issue for the non-prot subsidiary. e main concern in media coverage
for TOMS is for the central message of the “One for One” movement to be clear, concise and at the forefront of
TOMS mission for selling shoes. It can be easily viewed as skepticism to be somewhat of a stunt to link philan-
thropy to business as a easy means to produce prot. However, the majority of the media coverage portrays the
TOMS service goals in a positive light.
Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these
children are at risk:
A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the
skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and
cognitive harm they cause.
Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they
also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
Many times children can’t attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If
they don’t have shoes, they don’t go to school. If they don’t receive an education, they don’t have the
opportunity to realize their potential.
Blake Mycoskie was originally inspired by the
ArgentineAlpargata shoe, or as Americans
refer to it, an espadrill. Espadrills are usually
casual, at, but sometimes high heeled shoes
originating from the Pyrenees. ey usually
have a canvas or cotton upper and a exible
sole made of rope or rubber material molded
to look like rope.
e “Giving Pair”
e shoe TOMS most commonly gives is the
black, unisex canvas slip-on with a sturdy sole.
Black shoes are required for school in many
countries, and the sturdy sole allows children
to run and play with their feet protected.
ey’ve found that classic TOMS slip-on style
works well, because when shoe laces break,
many families cannot aord to replace them.
In Argentina, they give shoes closer to their
colorful classics, as this is the common style
there. ey give a variety of locally-produced
shoes in Ethiopia. Currently, they are working
on developing dierent shoe types, based on
feedback from giving partners.
How TOMS Gives
Give Sustainably. Give Responsibly: At TOMS, they are committed to creating the biggest im-
pact possible with the shoes they give- improving children’s health and access to education- for the long-term.
Giving Partners: ey couldn’t do it without them! ey work to establish shoe-giving partnerships
with humanitarian organizations worldwide that have deep experience and a long-term presence in the coun-
tries and communities they serve.
Organizations that become Giving Partners work with TOMS to:
Identify communities that need shoes :: Together, they nd communities that will benet most from
TOMS shoes due to economic, health and educational needs, and where local businesses will not be
Giving Shoes that Fit :: eir Giving Partners order the sizes children in their community need. TOMS
makes the shoes to order to help ensure children are given new shoes that t them.
Help eir Shoes Have a Bigger Impact :: Children who are given TOMS shoes receive them as part of
larger health and education programs run by their Giving Partners. ese programs help children get
the care and opportunity they need to keep them healthy and in school.
Give Children Shoes As ey Grow :: Children grow fast! TOMS works to give shoes to children in need
throughout their childhood. Once they identify a community that needs shoes, they continue to give
to the children in that community to help them stay healthy and in school.
Provide Feedback and Help Us Improve :: TOMS relies on its incredible Giving Partners to provide
feedback on shoes’ t and durability, the giving process and the needs of the community- allowing
them to continually improve.
Giving Locations Worldwide
Over 20 countries worldwide.
Once a shoe is purchased, it takes about 4 to 6 months for their Giving
Partners to order shoes and to hand-place them on children’s feet.
To maintain or increase sales so that TOMS can give shoes to communities in need and continue to give
shoes to those communities as children’s feet grow and require new shoes. TOMS aims to protect the health
of children and to give them access to an education so that they have the greatest chance at success and im-
proving their community.
Knowledge: To consumers recognize that TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair of shoes
that is purchased.
Predisposition: To identify communities that are in need of shoes.
Behavior: To maintain current upward sales movement so that TOMS can
continue to give shoes to communities in despirate need year aer year.
Men and women between the ages of 18 and 25.
GenerationY(also known as the Millennials who were born
between the mid 1970s and the mid 1990s)
e message for TOMS Shoes is that if you purchase a pair of shoes, you are
helping a child in need because a pair of shoes will be given to them.
Children in Need
During Blake Mycoskie’s trip to Argentina in 2006, he was blindsided by the extreme poverty and health
conditions, as well as children walking without shoes. Toward the end of his trip, he met an American woman
in a cafe who was volunteering with a small group of people on a shoe drive- a new concept to him. She
explained that many kids lacked shoes, even in relatively well-developed countries like Argentina, an absence
that didn’t just complicate every aspect of their lives but also exposed them to a wide range of diseases. Her
organization collected shoes from donors and gave them to kids in need- but ironically the donations that
supplied the organization were also its Achilles’ heel. eir complete dependence on donations meant that
they had little control over their supply of shoes. And even when donations did come in sucient quantities,
they were oen not in the correct sizes, which meant that many of the children were still le barefoot aer the
shoe drop-os. is was heartbreaking to Mycoskie.
He then spent a few days traveling from village to village, and a few more traveling on his own, witnessing the
intense pockets of poverty just outside the bustling capital. It dramatically heightened his awareness. He knew
somewhere in the back of his mind that poor children around the world oen went barefoot, but for the rst
time, he saw the real eects of being shoeless: the blisters, the sores, the infection-all the result of the children
not being able to protect their young feet from the ground. And thus a company was born.
Generation Y is a socially conscious bunch: volunteerism went up 25% from 2002 to 2005 and feelings of
civic responsibility is the highest in 25 years. Socially conscious brands have seen a steady growth over the last
decade, as Generation Y graduates from allowance to income.
TOMS, like many modern businesses, has a solid social media following: 894,560 twitter followers, 1,124,202
fans on Facebook and gobs of user-generated content scattered throughout YouTube. However, University
of California, Irvine Professor of Political Science Russell Dalton observes that, unlike previous generations,
this new one insists on hands-on involvement. Instead of just voting, they prefer to organize a rally, Instead
of military service, they’d rather join an association. So, in addition to 24/7 online social media interaction,
TOMS’ fans get to participate in an annual One Day Without Shoes movement. An estimated 250 thousand
people went shoe-commando last April to understand the plight of shoe-less children.
Over 1200 universities have campus clubs dedicated to TOMS shoes. In comparison, how many students
spend their free time fawning over brands such as Coca-cola or the Gap? Campus club members come armed
with paint brushes and stencils to cra their own individuality on the canvas of plain white shoes.
ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES
WHAT? e day TOMS spreads awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life by taking o
How? Do what you love to do with the people you love to do it with, only on this day, do it without shoes. When
people ask you why tell them how shoes are crucial to a better tomorrow.
Enthusiastic college students were also responsible for getting the rst One Day Without Shoes o the ground
in 2008. One Day Without Shoes is the day in April when TOMS asks people to go without shoes to raise aware-
ness of children growing up barefoot and the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life. It’s grown far
beyond college campuses, and in only its third year, people of all ages got involved - in 2010, over a quarter of a
million people went barefoot and over 1600 barefoot events took place globally.
IUPUI was named the top supporter for the national Barefoot Challenge: A Day Without Shoes campaign.
Where more than 10,000 university students, employees and other connected to the university pledged to sup-
port the April 5, 2011, event, going about their normal campus schedules while barefoot. As consolation for
winning the challenge, Mycoskie is scheduled to speak at the university. In addition, the student organizers may
be invited on a “Shoe Drop” with TOMS staers. IUPUI Challenge activities included a Barefoot Walk during
which about 100 people marched around the campus as part of the eort to raise awareness about the millions
of children worldwide who go barefoot without choice.
TOMS even created a new app for the iPhone and Android markets to keep updated with everything needed for
an awesome One Day Without Shoes. Users can locate events in their area, listen to One Day Radio, get real-
time updates, learn more about the impact shoes have on a child’s life, shop, view a video gallery and more.
“ShoeDrops”- A unique program where TOMS
invites volunteers and other members of the TOMS
family to go for about one week to a country where
their Giving Partners are giving their shoes. Shoe
Drop participants have the powerful experience of
hand-placing shoes on children’s feet and engaging
with a dierent and new culture.
TOMSCampusClubs- to spur social entre-
preneurship and hybrid enterprise at colleges. e
power of entrepreneurship to change the world is a
powerful message to the next generation of leaders,
and TOMS is mentoring that energy.
VagabondTour- In early 2009, TOMS
launched a Vagabond tour, sponsored by the Dave
Matthews Band, that was aimed at inspiring “compas-
sion in action” on campuses nation-wide.
TOMS has a strong presence on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. With nearly one mil-
lion followers, TOMS has a strong fan base. e feed is frequently up to date with promotions, information,
and interaction with its’ followers. e Facebook for TOMS focuses n the giving aspect of the brand and the
children associated. Consumers can read about the process of the shoe giving, as well as answer dierent polls.
Consumers can also voice their concerns and comments on the Facebook page. Students link their photos from
their Campus Clubs. As well as the most recent promotion of “Movember”-the month long world-wide charity
event to raise awareness for men’s health issues. TOMS also features country-specic Facbook pages, for example
AT&T joined with TOMS Shoes and the upcoming delivery of its one millionth pair of shoes to a child in need
this past September. rough promotion on the AT&T website participants entered for a chance to attend a spe-
cial One Millionth Shoe Drop with TOMS in Argentina.
First, supporters can design their own virtual pair of TOMS Shoes at www.att.net/toms during the AT&T Sole
Styler promotion between August 9 and 29. One Sole Styler winner and a guest will be selected at random to at-
tend the one millionth shoe drop in Argentina.
Blake Mycoskie, Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, is honored to be featured in an ATT (AT&T) commercial as
part of ATT’s latest ad campaign. ATT has “more bars in more places” and the advertisement captures the im-
portance of ATT service for TOMS Shoes.
Directed by Bennet Miller, an Academy Award nominee, lming for the commercial began in early February
2009. Using a variety of locations, shooting stretched over several weeks and two continents. e result is a com-
mercial that captures the essence of TOMS.
e TOMS web site is very modern and interactive. e site is segmented into six major tabs: Women, Men
and Youth shoes, TOMS Eyewear, “Our Movement,” and Blog. ere is a pleasing balance between the com-
pany’s products and the company’s mission. e web site encourages customer participation and features
user-submitted content throughout the web site (i.e., when shopping for shoes, customers can view pictures of
how other customers wore the particular shoe). TOMS’ web site is extremely tied into social media sites like
Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, and has made unique strides in encouraging consumer involvement and in-
spiring social action. TOMS has done this through a number of tabs titled “Share,” “Screen,” “Host,” “Upload,”
Share- A simple link that allows you to easily share the TOMS story via sites like Facebook, Twitter,
MySpace, Reddit, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and many other sites.
Screen- is link allows you to order a free copy of the TOMS documentary to share with family,
friends and other groups. e page even gives suggestions on how to get ready for your screening and
what to discuss aer the screening.
Host- e host tab gives you tips and suggestions for fun shoe-decorating parties and gives you the
option of downloading a party checklist.
Upload- is link gives you the option of uploading pictures of you and the TOMS ag, you wearing
your TOMS shoes, dierent ways that you’ve decorated your shoes or anything else users can come up
Register- Here, users can register to participate in “One Day Without Shoes.”
e TOMS blog is frequently updated with news from across the globe that is relevant to the brand. Whether
it be with updates from the TOMS headquarters or pictures sent in from loyal, world-travelling customers,
TOMS continues to spread the word of its good works through its blog. TOMS includes information about
the Shoe Drops they go on in dierent countries as well as sections like “TOMS in the Press” and “TOMS Fans
Doing Well With Doing Good.”
Since its founding in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Shoes has given away over 1,000,000 pairs of shoes.
e TOMS brand has been very successful at inspiring many to do better and and make a real impact on
the lives of thousands of people worldwide. TOMS has a very simple one-for-one mission: when you buy a
pair of shoes, a pair is donated to a child in need. Some call this “philanthropic capitalism.” TOMS’ busi-
ness model has also proven to be recession-proof: while most businesses have hacked people and expenses,
TOMS is hiring. In an article by Success Magazine, Mycoskie cites two reasons for this phenomenon, saying,
“First, consumers are now conscious about where they put their dollars. A product like TOMS that gives to
others is appealing to people more than ever. Also, the bigger a company gets, whether its a shoe company or
any other corporation, the smaller the margins get because of the gigantic overhead. You manage the busi-
ness by pennies. But we know everyday that we’re going to give away one pair of shoes for every one we sell,
and that’s that. If we cant make the business work that way, the business just doesn’t work. So there’s never
a temptation to cut things.” Mycoskie cites TOMS’ continued ability to donate shoes to the fact that giving
has been incorporated into their business model from the start, whereas many businesses don’t price giving
in to their expenses. It is in this sense that TOMS Shoes has proven successful. Blake Mycoskie’s goal was to
create a business that would allow him to not only give shoes, but continue to give shoes to children in need
all around the world for as long as TOMS Shoes could survive. TOMS Shoes has not only survived, but it has
ourished in a receding economy.
PR Professional Opinion
Rebecca Masterbone is an Assistant Account Executive at Lippe
Taylor where she works primarily on fashion and health brands.
She is responsible for draing pitches and other brand related
materials, conducting daily industry trend research and assisting
in executing client events. She has secured placements in top me-
dia outlets for David’s Bridal such as e Today Show, Redbook,
BRIDES, Get Married, New York Daily News, and Examiner.
Prior to working at Lippe Taylor, Rebecca interned at DeVries
Public Relations where she worked on the Sephora account.
Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the
Pennsylvania State University.
In our interview with Lippe Taylor Asisstant Account Exevutive, Masterbone spoke about the strong
presence TOMS has with the younger, “generation Y”, generation and the eorts that could be in-
creased to expand. While TOMS does a great job of marketing to its target audience, Masterbone men-
tions that many things can be added and other targets to reach by deeply relaying this very powerful
message TOMS carries. Masterbone compred it to her experience with working with a client such as
David’s Bridal. Both companies have one product focus, and can increase eorts on “expanding upon
the obvious”. Possibly adding an intiative, or a new charities; also, getting involved with more commu-
nities within the U.S. All these things could expand the companies reach.
About Lippe Taylor:
Lippe Taylor Inc. provides marketing communication, consult-
ing, publicity promotion, and trend forecasting services. It caters
to fashion, healthcare, and lifestyle industries. e company’s cli-
entele includes Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Sara Lee
Corporation, Intimate Brands, and e Andrew Jergens Corpora-
tion. Lippe is based in New York City.
Sketchers BOBS Shoes
BOBS Shoes follows the same business model as TOMS, has a similar one-syllable generic name and even
sells identical products . Inspired by the same South American alpargata shoe, BOBS follows TOMS’ prac-
tice of donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair of shoes that is purchased. On the Skechers
web site, they acknowledge that, while the idea is not original, it is a good idea and one that has the poten-
tial to impact so many. ey also mimic TOMS’ dedication to sustainability, saying “globally minded down
to its earth-friendly packaging, BOBS is designed with comfort, style and care in mind.”
BOBS Shoes capitalized on the TOMS Shoes’ proven-as-successful business model and advertising strategy.
is, in itself, is a testament to the success of the TOMS campaign. Cause Integration supports the idea
of for-prot companies competing to produce a product whereby consumers and third-party social good
recipients win. But their lack of addition of any original insight or idea demonstrates Skechers’ desire to
capitalize on a proven model rather than act from an ethos of doing good, leaving doubts behind Sketchers’
true social motives in releasing the BOBS Shoes.
Celebrities like Sammi Sweetheart are teaming up with Soles4Souls to help deliver shoes around the world.
ey request a donation of ve dollars (the price of a venti frap, as they say) which would halp ve people
around the world in desperate need of footwear. eir reasons for wanting to give shoes are the same as
TOMS’ in that they are motivated by preventing disease. However, they are unlike TOMS in that they have
only accumulated $24,506, though this may be attributed to the fact that they are not a business but a char-
ity. eir web site is very simple in that it only gives you the option of donating, reading more about the
cause, spreading the word (through simple facebook and twitter sharing tabs)and the option of contacting
them. Soles4Souls is nowhere near as well known as the TOMS brand.
Since its founding in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Shoes has given away over 1,000,000 pairs of
shoes. e TOMS brand has been very successful at inspiring many to do better and and make a real im-
pact on the lives of thousands of people worldwide. TOMS has a very simple one-for-one mission: when
you buy a pair of shoes, a pair is donated to a child in need. TOMS has persuaded consumers to do this
despite the look (which may or may not appeal to everyone), price and quality of their shoes. Some call this
“philanthropic capitalism.” TOMS has won praise among politicians (Bill Clinton), businesses (AT&T),
advertisers (BBDO Worldwide) and digital inuences (Digg’s Founder, Kevin Rose even designed a “Digg
Shoe”). TOMS’ business model has also proven to be recession-proof: while most businesses have hacked
people and expenses, TOMS is hiring. In an article by Success Magazine, Mycoskie cites two reasons for this
phenomenon, saying, “First, consumers are now conscious about where they put their dollars. A product like
TOMS that gives to others is appealing to people more than ever. Also, the bigger a company gets, whether
its a shoe company or any other corporation, your margins get very small because you have the gigantic
overhead. You manage the business by pennies. But we know everyday that we’re going to give away one pair
of shoes for every one we sell, and that’s that. If we cant make the business work that way, the business just
doesn’t work. So there’s never a temptation to cut things.” Mycoskie cites TOMS’ continued ability to donate
shoes to the fact that giving has been incorporated into their business model from the start, whereas many
businesses don’t price giving in to their expenses.
Scufϐing Up TUMS Sboes
Readers sounded o last week about our story on Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes (“Turmoil for
Blake Mycoskie of TOMS,” by Patrick Range McDonald, July 29). e story explained that liberal organiza-
tions are mied that his company uses images of poor people to market its shoes and that Mycoskie is in-
volved with antigay evangelical Christian groups, including a speaking appearance at a Focus on the Family
event in Orange County. Mycoskie’s company gives away a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair
sold, but the shoes are not of equal value.
A commenter identied only as “p1970” writes: “e Focus on the Family connection part is disappointing
to me, not the shoe donation part. My mother was an ardent follower of Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Fam-
ily when I came out to her as transgender as a young person. She forced me to attend a reparative therapy
program and told me should I ever decide to start hormone treatment, I would not be welcome in her home.
“Except for one brief meeting in a public place three years ago, I haven’t seen her or my father face to face in
10 years. is is a shame. I was a sweet kid. If only Focus had spread love, not divisiveness.”
P1970 continues: “My thoughts on the shoe part: Altruism is a good thing, whether the person is from the
cultural le or the cultural right, and whether the person’s motives are pure or mixed with selshness. Busi-
nesses and nonprots all seem to exploit the images of suering people to promote themselves. And al-
though TOMS doesn’t give jobs to its shoe recipients, it does give jobs to people who may desperately need
them as well, in China and the U.S. People don’t always come in the packages we expect, and not being the
person other people expect is not in itself bad. (No one knows that better than me.)”
In reply, a reader identied as “reelzies” writes that p1970 “has great wisdom on Mycoskie sorely missing
from this article. And you said, ‘I was a sweet kid,’ which I am sure you were. What impresses me through
your writing is that you are a sage and compassionate adult. I’ll bet you’re still a sweetie, too.”
Reelzies went on to say that the piece on Mycoskie was littered with “bigotry and ignorance about Christian-
ity,” speculating that it was a “hit piece on Christianity with Mycoskie as the fall guy. My take-away from this
article is that Mycoskie helps those in need in his own way.”
Reader Aaron W. Matthews writes: “So, it’s not cool to wear shoes if the maker has a dierent belief than
you? Despite the good done by TOMS shoes in giving and helping over a million in need, a person would
boycott and slander Mycoskie simply because of a place he spoke? He didn’t become James Dobson’s blood
brother, and the altruism (I liked the way p1970 put it) is good regardless of personal conviction.
“If Mycoskie is a Christian, I support his eorts toward making the world a better place. I hate the thought
of the poor being exploited, but I sure hope there are some happier, healthier people somewhere in the world
because they have shoes on their feet. I’ll continue to buy these shoes.”
e Business of Giving: TOMS Shoes
By: Mike Zimmerman
He’d gone there in January 2006 to learn how to play polo— Argentina has some of the best polo farms in
the world. But in the backcountry, he saw other things: many poor children, shoeless, and some of the locals
wearing simple yet incredibly comfortable farming shoes. So he was sitting on that Argentinean polo farm one
day “and that’s where the epiphany happened,” he says. Cool shoes… a style not seen in the States… redesign
them, bring them north, and for every pair you sell, give a pair away to one of those shoeless children.
TOMS Shoes—and high-prole “philanthropic capitalism”— was born. He has created an entire business
model that inspires. “Ultimately, I’m trying to create something that’s going to be here long aer I’m gone,” he
Business has thrived. As the fashion industry and consumers have embraced the many styles of TOMS Shoes,
“shoe drops” organized by the company in Argentina, Ethiopia and South Africa have distributed 140,000
pairs of shoes to needy kids. e shoes, priced from $44 to $70 (and $98 for a women’s boot), are the ultimate
feel-good purchase. e charitable business model has attracted famous business partners as well (there are
now limited-edition Dave Matthews Band shoes, for example).
rough all this, Mycoskie maintains a weird double-life. Half his time is spent on the business, meeting with
style mavens and fashionistas, working on fresh designs, and getting the word on the street through personal
appearances and projects like his ubiquitous AT&T commercial. e other half is spent in desolate coun-
tries handing out shoes to smiling kids—the aforementioned “shoe-drops.” e company plans to give away
300,000 shoes in 2009.
e Ethiopian drops are of particular interest to Mycoskie. “ere are hundreds of thousands of people sub-
ject to a signicant foot disease called podoconiosis, or ‘podo,’ ” he explains. “A long time ago, Ethiopia had
volcanic activity, which le a silicone in the soil that actually goes into your foot skin and causes the lymphatic
system to break down. e feet swell badly, almost like an elephantiasis of the feet, and it cripples people—not
just physically, but mentally, because they’re seen as lepers and ostracized.”
TOMS Shoes helps keep those children’s feet healthy, and healthy kids can attend school. And once they’re in
school, a real future takes root—all because of a simple pair of shoes. Another benet: Mycoskie has played
many games of soccer with kids on several continents— sometimes with a bunch of rolled-up plastic bags for
a ball. “I’ll motion that I want to play, and next thing I know, I’m either shirts or skins and playing soccer with
some of the most passionate players in the world. Soccer is our universal language with the kids.”
Read more at http://www.successmagazine.com/the-business-of-giving/PARAMS/article/852
TOMS Shoes Generation Y Strategy
By: Gregory Ferenstein
Generation Y wants it all: to shop, socialize, and save the world all at the same time. TOMS Shoes, the popu-
lar shoe company that donates a pair of shoes to needy children for every pair purchased, is showcasing just
how much brand enthusiasm young consumers will show for a company with a similar worldview. A standing
army of social media activists and over 1200 TOMS university clubs use their online and person networks to
broadcast their love of TOMS Shoes. Below are the three pillars of their strategy: charity, participation, and
Generation Y is a socially conscious bunch: volunteerism went up 25% from 2002 to 2005 and feelings of
civic responsibility is the highest in 25 years. Socially conscious brands have seen a steady growth over the
last decade, as Generation Y graduates from allowance to income. Up until now, consumers’ interaction with
corporate charity was a utilitarian calculation. For instance, I can buy a climate change-inducing cheeseburger
knowing that a small slice of the prot will go to some needy charity. e nonprot sector and corporate
philanthropy departments are traditionally separated from the prot side of business. “It used to be that it was
very mutually exclusive between going into the peace corpse or going into corporate America,” says TOMS
founder and CEO, Blake Mycowski. “But, with TOMS, I feel like we’ve combined the two.”
Blake is not alone: a growing chunk of the economy is responding to increasing demands to integrate charity
into product lines. “With cause-integration, positive social change is tied to the prot motive. When 90% of
people when given a choice between two otherwise similar brands will choose the one that supports a cause,
we have the leverage we need to change the fundamental nature of capitalism,” said Ryan Scott, CEO of Cause-
cast, a leading cause-integrated marketing rm.
In addition to ird World shoe drops, TOMS shoes are made from hemp and recycled bottle parts, mandate
fair wages and sound labor conditions from oversees manufactures, and even have a line of vegan-friendly
TOMS, like many modern businesses, has a solid social media following: 488,000 twitter follower, 280,000
Facebook fan page, and gobs of user-generated content smattered throughout YouTube. However, University
of California, Irvine Professor of Political Science Russell Dalton observes that, unlike previous generations,
this new one insists on hands-on involvement. Instead of just voting, they prefer to organize a rally. Instead of
military service, they’d rather join an association.
Read more at http://www.fastcompany.com/1658289/toms-shoes-generation-y-strategy
e Lowly Alpargata Steps Forward
By: Jenifer Irwin
When Blake Mycoskie ew from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires last January, he planned to perfect his polo and
learn a little Spanish. e Texas-born entrepreneur could not have known that he also would end up in the
footwear business with his polo instructor, Alejo Nitti.
e men recreated the alpargata — the canvas shoe that is as Argentine as the tango, prime beef and dulce de
leche — as the centerpiece of their company, Toms Shoes. “From a design standpoint, you take the best of the
Havaiana and the espadrille, put them together and that is what Toms is,” Mycoskie said by telephone from
But the venture also has a social conscience. Aer seeing poor children without shoes in Argentina, Mycoskie
came up with a concept: “e idea is for every pair you sell, one pair goes to a child who doesn’t have shoes. It
would be providing shoes for tomorrow.”
Toms Shoes began production last March in workshops on the outskirts of the city. Mycoskie and Nitti started
with the traditional design but added sturdy rubber soles, so leather insoles and used new fabrics in a burst
of color and patterns, with bold stitching.
Nitti, who heads production operations, said few people in Argentina had believed in their vision to create a
quality shoe inspired by the alpargata. “Many people didn’t want to speak with us, because they didn’t un-
derstand how it could be done,” he said. Now, sitting in a café in Buenos Aires, Nitti wears a pair of Toms in
camouage fabric, with green patches on the toe and heel.
Over the summer, Toms Shoes sold 10,000 pairs in the United States alone, partly through www.tomsshoes.
com and through stores like Scoop in New York and American Rag and Wolf in Los Angeles. e shoes also
are sold in Australia, Japan and Canada and online in Argentina; they intend to start selling in Britain this
spring, and in Spain this summer. Toms Shoes will open a shop in the hip Palermo Soho neighborhood of
Buenos Aires late in the year.
ere are 18 models for men and women, which sell for $38, and a limited-edition shoe hand-painted by the
Los Angeles-based artist Tyler Ramsey, selling at $48.
is spring there will be another limited edition, designed by Trovata, the 2005 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund
winners, as well as a Tiny Toms line for children.
Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/17/style/17iht-rtom.html
You Make the Call as AT&T
Supersizes a Spot About Shoes
By Stuart Elliot
At a time when most TV viewers would like to see 30-second commercials become three-second commercials
— or maybe even zero-second commercials — a big advertiser is bringing out a 60-second version of its most
recent 30-second spot.
Viewers who tune in for Fox’s “American Idol” on Tuesday can watch the debut of the 60-second commercial,
which promotes the mobile services sold by AT&T. e spot, by the BBDO Worldwide unit of the Omnicom
Group, is a longer version of a commercial that started appearing during the second week of April.
e longer version was inspired, AT&T executives say, by an outpouring of praise for the commercial, which
features a company called Toms Shoes that promises to give to poor children a pair of shoes for each pair it
sells. e rst, shorter spot shows scenes that include a shoe giveaway in Uruguay; the second, longer spot of-
fers additional video.
For those who nd a minute not long enough to spend with Toms and its founder, Blake Mycoskie, the
60-second version of the spot will be accompanied by about three minutes worth of “behind the scenes” foot-
age on Facebook and YouTube.
“We noticed some traction for the spot almost from the get-go” on both YouTube and Twitter, said Daryl Ev-
ans, vice president for consumer advertising and marketing communications at the Atlanta oce of AT&T.
It is the rst time the campaign for AT&T’s mobile unit, which carries the theme “more bars in more places,”
has featured a real business, Mr. Evans said. Other spots have been centered on make-believe companies like a
Toms Shoes, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., was selected for the campaign through a serendipitous
twist. A copywriter for BBDO was watching a report about the company on a video screen in the back seat of
a taxicab carrying program content supplied by NBC Universal, Mr. Evans recalled, and it turned out that Mr.
Mycoskie “was a longtime AT&T customer.”
Mr. Mycoskie, speaking from a shoe giveaway in New Orleans, sounded a bit agog about what has taken place
since the commercial shoot in mid-February.
Trac to the Toms Web site, which had totaled around 9,000 visitors a day, is up to 75,000 to 90,000 a day, Mr.
Mycoskie said, and “we’ve had to get more server space and more people to answer the phones.”
Read more at http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/you-make-the-call-as-att-supersizes-a-spot-