Our Passionate about Stories series looks at storytelling from organisations of all shapes and sizes. The series gives us an opportunity to learn from brands we love and develop our storytelling skills.
On a daily basis there are so many things that we take for granted, that millions of people around the world live without. These things include basic amenities ranging from electricity to medical care. Shoes are also one of these things.
Imagine walking without shoes for a day. How much of bacteria would infect your feet or how many sharp objects would prick them? Life without shoes is certainly uncomfortable and dangerous. Yet 300 million people in the world are unable to afford this essential.
To tackle this global issue, TOMS Shoes has an annual campaign, titled ‘One Day Without Shoes’. This campaign tells a story that connects with its customers and creates an impact across the globe.
TOMS is a for-profit company that was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie in California, USA. The company designs and sells shoes based on the Argentine alpagarta design, which is a simple canvas slip-on shoe.
The original design is made from canvas or cotton fabric with rope soles, however TOMS uses rubber soles in their shoe design.
For each pair of shoes that the company sells, a new pair of TOMS shoes are given to an impoverished child.
‘One Day Without Shoes’
Since shoes are part of our journey, they definitely tell the best stories. With this thought in mind in April 2011 the company’s founder launched the ‘One Day Without Shoes’ campaign. He asked the brand’s customers to go barefoot for a day to raise awareness about the number of communities that go without shoes. During the campaign, they collected money in order to combat this problem and thousands of shoes were donated to those in need.
In 2015, TOMS took this annual campaign a step further and used social media as a tool to engage their audience.
Thousands of Instagram users provided shoes to those in need by tagging barefoot photos with the #WithoutShoes. There was no purchase required, just tagging of bare feet.
By giving shoes to underprivileged children TOMS didn’t simply provide comfort but increased access to education and treated debilitating diseases that affect the feet.
— P!nk (@Pink) May 18, 2015
The fact that the campaign was all about helping those less fortunate than yourself created a powerful and compelling story. It stirred emotions and people were happy to know that they were part of a cause that involved helping children in need.
Some of the success stories of this campaign were that TOMS donated shoes to help students in India to complete their school uniform which increased regular attendance.
Distribution of TOMS shoes in Ethiopia helped prevent diseases such as podoconiosis, which is the swelling of the legs due to irritant soil. The idea of this campaign is that TOMS just doesn’t want to sell shoes, but make lives better.