Case Study: TOMS One Day Without Shoes

Everyone has heard of TOMS shoes. Blake Mycoskie, the man who started it all, has donated over a million shoes to needy men, women and children. His simple idea of “one for one,” buy a pair of shoes and give a pair of shoes, is not only genius cause-related marketing but also provides a positive incentive to purchase the product. TOMS is a brand that resonates well with people and is one of the most popular shoes in the world.

To help promote the brand, each year TOMS runs a PR awareness campaign where individuals walk around barefoot, without shoes, so other kids don’t have to. The premise of the campaign is summarized in the following infographic:

This year the event was scheduled for April 10, 2012 – just a few days ago. Since then, they have received lots of online media attention. Articles summarizing the day showed up on, and various blogs like this one for Mall of America and Her Campus. Retailers, who sell TOMS shoes, participated in the event as well. Nordstrom’s, for instance, had an hour and a half blocked out for a sponsored awareness walk in hopes of driving sales.

They had this promotional video encouraging individuals to join TOMS in celebrating One Day Without Shoes and this 2012 trailer hyping people up to participate in the event again this year.

Although the numbers aren’t out yet as to how successful this year’s campaign was, here are some stats I grabbed from last year’s event:

  • #1 trending topic on Twitter
  • #4 most recent searched term on Google
  • Over 25 countries participated
  • Over 1,000 events were held worldwide
  • Over 1,400 companies joined the barefoot challenge
  • Over 500 schools got involved to show their support

TOMS utilizes social media to generate awareness and increase participation from students, kids, adults, companies, retailers and the like to participate. In return, TOMS gets a lot of consumer interaction and new loyal customers. Here’s an overview of their social media presence online encompassing the One Day Without Shoes campaign:

What really drove the campaign on April 12 of this year was, in my opinion, Facebook.

With almost one million and a half fans on Facebook, TOMS has an extremely large and loyal fan base. Over the course of the past 3 days since the event occurred, TOMS has posted 23 times on the Facebook page alone (Twitter, I’m sure, had lots more).

On Tuesday, April 10 (the day of the event) there were 16 picture posts from around the world of people dedicating a day without shoes. Here is one of my favorites:

This picture from Puerto Rico generated 4,808 likes, 212 shares and 106 comments. Although you might expect that much feedback from a fan base of almost 1.5 million, it’s still pretty astonishing to generate that much discussion around a single post.

Wednesday’s posts were thanking participants and recapping the day. This posts summarizes the event and reminds fans why they should partake in the awareness campaign:

This post generated 552 likes, 17 comments and 25 shares. For such a simple post, the targeted reach is still pretty impressive.

Then this post was just shared just a few hours ago commending all the volunteers and compiling all the photos they recieved from participants.

This is great consumer generated content that reinforces the brand and shows how active TOMS fans are. As of right now, the post generated 1,764 likes, 62 comments and 473 shares – that’s some powerful reach right there.

I think all of these posts were perfect for the TOMS brand because it’s a great way to share all the people participating in the event from various parts of the world. It reassures participants that they are not alone and there are hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing. It also is a perfect testimonial to everything the brand stands for and the execution of the campaign was done flawlessly.

One reason this campaign is so successful is because TOMS takes advantage of their brand ambassadors, reaches out to them to help create awareness, and essentially relies on these loyal consumers to run the One Day Without Shoes in their city. It’s a prefect example of how a brand reaches out to their loyal consumers and gives them a voice.

Overall, I’ve learned how an organization turned a campaign event into a viral phenomenon online. TOMS did an excellent job transferring the awareness efforts online to reach their well-established fan base as well as introduce new consumers to the brand and their products.

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4 thoughts on “Case Study: TOMS One Day Without Shoes

  1. Interesting post. I already knew that TOMs was influential in a socially responsible economic way, but I didn’t realize how active they were on social media. However, after reading this, it only makes sense that the brand would promote its “Day WIthout Shoes” so heavily on social media because platforms like Facebook make it very easy to mobilizes millions of people. As you mentioned, this online campaign allows TOMs brand ambassadors to organize events easily and effectively in their own cities while spreading awareness for the brand and its message.

  2. Kay says:

    Hey! This is really interesting! I was wondering where you found all the data and statistics for this? I’d love to share with my professor, but she’d want to know where you got your facts.


  3. Excellent commentary Aria!

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