Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
May 4, 2015

Toms urges Chinese to lose shoes in philanthropic push

BEIJING - Toms, a US-based shoe brand known for its 'One for One' pledge, is kicking off a month-long brand-activation program in China that promises to help a child in need in exchange for naked-foot selfies.

Toms urges Chinese to lose shoes in philanthropic push

Brand: Toms

Market: China

Campaign scope: Social media, events, in-store promotion

Details: Originated in April 2008, the 'One day without shoes' "movement" (that's what the company calls it) is in its inaugural year in China. Between 5 and 21 May, whenever someone takes a 'barefeet photo' and posts it to Weibo, WeChat, Mogujie, or Instagram with the #withoutshoes hashtag, Toms will donate one pair of shoes to children in need.

Online platforms including Shangpin, Mogujie, and Alibaba Fan’r have enrolled their own KOLs to seed the movement among their niche communities. On Weibo and Wechat, Toms will rely on influencers like 'FreshBoy' and '恒洋同学' to spread the word.

Selected retail stores in China will have 'barefoot photobooths' set up where consumers can take off their shoes and step into grounds similar to that of Argentina and Nepal.

To reward participation, customers will get an added 20 per cent off any purchase over RMB1000 on TMall between 16 and 21 May. Additionally, fans can follow the global photo tally on Toms TMall (within China), or (outside of China) during the campaign period.

Toms will also work with certain corporations to localize the movement as part of CSR commitments or university outreaches. These include hosting 'barefoot lunches' in canteens, having corporate meetings barefooted, and having a barefeet live art-jamming session.

All these will lead up to the official 'One day without shoes' festivities on 21 May, with founder Blake Mycoskie partaking in various community activities in Beijing with university students, non-profit organizations and business leaders. One activity is to climb the Great Wall of China barefoot with folks like Gates Foundation's China head and Park Hyatt's APAC VP.

Press release quote: Jen Loong (龙晓灵), China branding head at Toms: "Toms believes that shoes play an important role in alleviating poverty, keeping children healthy from podoconiosis, educated by providing uniforms to increase attendance, and equipped with opportunities for a better future. This is the first philanthropic campaign of its kind, leveraging digital technologies to solicit global awareness, with zero time nor monetary commitment."

Campaign Asia Pacific's comments: The gamut of activities planned is quite staggering and is a nice respite to displays of rampant consumerism in China, with the appeal of eclectic founder Blake Mycoskie a boost. However, this philantrophic push may stop at being just that: an effort to shroud the brand in a philantrophic light, compared to initiatives from Because International  (adjustible shoes that can increase five sizes for growing children's feet) that ranks higher on sustainability and practicality?

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