COM0014 Blog 4: Think of the starving children in Africa

The originator of TOMS Shoes took that picky eater admonition in a whole new direction. Learning that children in Argentina could be barred from school if they didn’t have shoes, Texan Blake Mycoskie set up a company that would donate one pair of shoes for every pair purchased. Since 2007, his company has donated 70 million shoes to children in more than 70 countries. TOMS’ “One for One”® model (every time a TOMS product is purchased, a person in need is helped) now extends to eyewear, bags and roasting coffee.

TOMS represents the shift toward conscience-driven consumerism. The company builds what it terms “thoughtful partnerships” – nonprofit humanitarian organizations that can help fulfill the company’s One for One® promise. For example, TOMS Facebook page (followed and liked by 3.8 million people) includes a recent Mother’s Day campaign operated by TOMS partner “Every Mother Counts.”  (“With every TOMS + Every Mother Counts product you purchase, TOMS will donate $5 to Every Mother Counts in support of programs that address the barriers to maternal health around the world and at home.”)

The company has a presence on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. TOMS’ Twitter accounts has sent 28,800 tweets since 2008, follows 217,000 others and has 2.14 million followers. Sadly, its content is mainly limited to photos and videos of new shoes. The company website uses a blog area, but its content has not been updated since 2014. TOMS #iamtoms Twitter campaign has also been inactive since 2014.

Overall, though I’m very taken with the company’s mission and track record, I feel its social media feeds need curating and possible paring down. As well, there are no mentions of the current consumer trends towards transparency, sustainability and encouraging local materials and labour markets.

I would love to know how TOMS’ impacts stack up against projects operated by UNICEF and other world-stage helping organizations. Unlike UNICEF, TOMS has to manage the balance between profits and philanthropy. Every day, the company walks a fine line between encouraging consumerism and serving a greater good.

Imelda's shoes

Imagine if Imelda Marcos had been a TOMS shopper! (a portion of Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection, rumoured to have been in excess of 1,000 pairs)


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