Relying on a one-two punch of social media and word of mouth, Toms reached consumers in organic — and quite clever — fashion.
Here are 10 memorable marketing moments in the past 10 years.
1. One Day Without Shoes
In 2007, Toms went social by launching a campaign to raise awareness for children’s health and education by walking many of the nation’s streets barefoot. The annual activity grew, with 27,435 children in 10 countries receiving new shoes in 2016 after the one-day event.
2. “Start Something That Matters”
Blake Mycoskie became a best-selling New York Times author with the publication of “Start Something That Matters,” drawing attention to the brand and the business lessons he learned along the way.
3. Speaking Circuit
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From college campuses and TV interviews to the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mycoskie has spent hundreds of days on the road as chief storyteller. He also speaks regularly at TED talks, and in 2014 held an event with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.
4. Thrift Shopping
At its annual Camp Toms off-site retreat, employees split up into teams to create spirited videos based on a theme. In 2013, when the theme was music, Mycoskie and team upped the theatrics by spoofing the “Thrift Shop” video from hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. It became a viral hit on YouTube.
Toms first partnered with the phone giant in 2009 to show how Mycoskie uses his AT&T Blackberry to conduct business from around the world. The spot was so popular for Toms — the brand instantly became a household name — and AT&T that the two partnered again this year, premiering a new commercial during the 2016 Oscars.
6. Set Sail
Mycoskie taught himself to sail by watching an instructional DVD box set. That came in handy as he lived on a boat during the company’s early years and eventually became a regular sailor — with, naturally, the Toms logo prominent for all to see from afar.
7. Shower Strike
Passionate about a number of social needs, Mycoskie refused to shower for a week to raise funds for clean water projects. The company captured the hygiene hijinks on video, a move that drew public attention to the cause while deepening the brand’s ties to global issues.
This publicity stunt was anything but a snooze-fest. Mycoskie partnered with college friend and local L.A. artist Tyler Ramsey to make personalized shoes for customers. In a live-streamed event on Google Plus, Ramsey slept in a glass box in front of the Toms store for a week, with Mycoskie dropping in and sending notes to the public, FN included.
9. Air Time
In the early part of 2016, Toms debuted its first commercial that communicated both the one-for-one mission around the globe, as well as the range of its products and Toms’ laid-back lifestyle.
10. Virtual Reality
The company moved into the immersive multimedia space in 2015 with a vibrant virtual journey to Peru that showed the shoes children receive. Toms enriched the experience in 2016 by partnering with AT&T to show customers how their purchase helped someone else — they launched “A Walk in Their Shoes,” a virtual film following a California customer to Colombia.