Wednesday, April 29, 2009


TOMS Shoes was founded on the basic principle of “One for One”. With every shoe purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need

Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS in 2006, after traveling to Argentina and witnessing that the children in the poor country had no shoes to protect their feet. Mycoskie created a business model where TOMS could match every pair of shoes sold to customers with a pair given directly to a child in need.

Since 2006, TOMS have been able to give over 140,000 pairs of shoes to children in need worldwide. With growing support, TOMS plans to give 300,000 shoes away this year (2009).

Below, we have posted our proposed theories and supporting examples.


Elaboration Likelihood Model & Diffusion of Innovation

One of the promotions that just recently happened on April 16th was what they called “One Day without Shoes”. TOMS asked individuals to leave their shoes at home for one day and participate in this event in order to raise awareness about their cause. While TOMS Shoes does not do much in terms of advertising they are constantly promoting their product and cause to the public.

The “One Day without Shoes” example demonstrates the PR model of Diffusion of Innovation. This sort of demonstration attempted to bring awareness to TOMS Shoes and their mission by putting their target audience in the place of these children in developing countries. Awareness is the first step in this model. Once awareness of the event was raised, thousands of people across the world, in almost 200 cities took part in the “One Day without Shoes” event. In addition over 45,000 people responded about the event online. This shows that genuine interest (step 2 in the diffusion of innovation model) was created due to this act. TOMS shoes must now evaluate the usefulness of this act (stage 3) and decide if they would like to make this an annual event in order to raise awareness (stages 4 and 5).

The other model that is in use in this instance is the 'Elaboration Likelihood Model'. In this model people are not always interested in the cause, however once someone that they admire is concerned, they too gain interest. Bill Clinton along with many other state senators supported the “One Day without Shoes”. This gained support in this act because the leaders that people have elected and admire support this cause. Senators in Oklahoma agreed recognize April 16th as “One Day without Shoes” day.

A good promotional video that was shown on the Tom’s Shoes website is…

AT & T - Kimberly Palmer

Elaboration Likelihood Model

In February 2009, AT&T began giving footage for their commercial featuring TOMS Shoes. A camera crew followed the founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, for several weeks and across two continents in order to capture the importance and reliability of AT&T service for TOMS.

The commercial aired during the Masters Golf Tournament in early April and demonstrated TOMS need for “more bars in more places”. The intention is that the quality of service that AT&T provides will allow TOMS to reach more people and draw awareness to their cause. AT&T is the platform through which TOMS will be able to reach more of their potential customers who are want to be, if they aren’t already, doing their part to help those in need.

The theory demonstrated in this television ad is the “Elaboration Likelihood Model”. The idea behind this theory begins with people’s attentions are likely to be drawn to the commercial while they are already engaged with watching their favorite television program. It is then that they are presented with TOMS as a company and their mission cause. They are enticed with the AT&T co-branding since it is a company that they are already familiar with and trust.

This commercial is intended to run through mid-July. The repetition of seeing the commercial over and over on larger cable networks allows the viewer to be reintroduced to the issue at hand and more aware of how they can help.


Uses and Gratifications Theory

People are active users of media and selective in the media they use to satisfy their needs. These particular needs can be gratified by the: media:

- Escapism

- Personal Relationships

- Personal Identity

- Surveillance

The example our group has chosen to demonstrate Uses and Gratification Theory is TOMS Shoes and how they have targeted the top social media networking sites on the web, such as Facebook and Twitter.

TOMS Shoes can communicate their message on a whole new level within their Facebook page. Fans and viewers are able to see why they should buy shoes to help support a child in need. It also allows for viewers to leave comments andobserve other sites that market TOMS shoes. They can post pictures of their accomplishments for fans to view as well. This form of communication can effectively establish a relationship between the audience and TOMS Shoes in only a matter of minutes. Also within the social media networking site, Facebook, TOMS Shoes has listed other sites that in addition contain blogs from the CEO himself, Blake Mycoskie. Other features of the site may include; upcoming events, a background of the company and a youtube video that clearly states the message of the company. (

On the media network of Twitter, the CEO, Blake Mycoskie leaves day-to-day updates on where he is traveling to deliver shoes for children all over the world. Twitter is a great networking tool for the organization to communicate with all diverse individuals who are willing to become involved. The level of involvement for each audience member varies. Some may be willing to donate while others want to join the movement.

Both of these social media networking sites help to demonstrate the Uses and Gratifications Theory. Without being aware of the media convergence TOMS Shoes may have struggled for publicity. I truly believe that TOMS Shoes has become a success because of its use of social media networks.

TOMS BLOG – Barbara Titus

Uses and Gratifications

In order to keep TOMS supporters constantly informed, the people behind the company created a blog that they update almost daily. A group of individuals known as “Vagabonds” travel around the country spreading the “One for One” mission of TOMS. Their Facebook page gives the following description: “TOMS Vagabonds travel the country and host events on high school and college campuses. They live life on the road while sharing their aspirations with people from all over the US. Every day they know what it feels like to make a difference in the world around them as they share the TOMS story.”

The Vagabonds are split up into different teams in order to cover all regions of the US. Each team travels across their assigned region, sharing the story of TOMS “One for One” mission through various events held directly on the school campuses. They travel with a van full of shoes for their event “Style Your Sole”, where you can purchase and decorate a pair of TOMS shoes. Each team posts on the blog almost daily, letting TOMS followers and supporters know what’s going on. They post everything from stories and photos to home videos they created while on the road.

TOMS’ use of a blog illustrates the Uses & Gratifications Public Relations and Mass Communication model because it allows people to stay informed while actively using their preferred media type, which in this case happens to be blogging. Blogging is constantly becoming more popular, making it a great way to target the specific stakeholder group of youth. Since TOMS was founded by a younger generation it easily sparks the interest of youth, making it important for TOMS to keep those stakeholders informed and updated in order to continue to hold their interest. The youth are a major stakeholder for TOMS because they will soon be successful and able to use their success to support and contribute to the “One for One” mission.

The Vagabonds blog is public relations oriented because it is a quick, simple and effective way to reach the public through the media they prefer. Creating a blog allows those members of the public who are constantly online to take five minutes and read TOMS updates without ever leaving their workspace. It allows students who are typing papers or researching online to conveniently stay informed without getting up from their computer. Since the Internet is accessible from anywhere in the world with modern technology, stakeholders can access TOMS’ blog from anywhere they are, at any time of the day or night. The Public Relations department of TOMS is targeting the young, hip, excited and active stakeholder through this Vagabonds blog.

Click here to go to the Vagabonds' blog:

The Vagabonds also publish YouTube videos of their recent travels, here is one from their visit to the Northwest:

MEDIA COVERAGE - Erik Soerflaten

Agenda Setting Theory

The idea behind the Agenda Setting Theory is that the media can’t tell people whattothink, but it can tell them what to think about. Magazines and newspapers choosewhichstories to cover and what to write. From a public relations perspective, you would wanttoget the media to write positive stories about your client or company – in this case, TOMS.Youwant to influence the media into writing something about TOMS so that readersbecomeaware of the company, what it does and, hence, start talking about it.

TOMS has received a lot of coverage in both magazines and newspapers and what’sinteresting is that this coverage is not aimed at only one specific segment of the population.I have looked at articles from four different magazines: People, TIME, Vogue and Men’sHealth – and they all have different target audiences – both when it comes to sex and age.For instance, more than 50 percent more women than men read People every week –compared to TIME where the audience is almost made up of 50 percent male and 50 percentwomen. The demographics are even more polarized with Vogue where 79 percent of thereaders are women – and with Men’s Health, where 84 percent of the audience is male. Beingthat these magazines that features stories about TOMS have such varied audiences, it alsoshows that TOMS products are aimed at a varied audience.

All the articles are fairly similar – they all promote TOMS in a positive light and the photos used, not only show TOMS’ founder Blake Mycoskie, but there are also close-ups of the shoe(s) as well.

The most interesting news coverage is probably the story that appeared in Men’s Health in September 2008. This is not only a story about TOMS and its founder, Blake Mycoskie, the story is actually written by Mycoskie himself. Not only is he being promoted in a large national magazine, he is doing it with his own words. From a public relations perspective, this is a prime example of setting the agenda. What speaks against this story is, however, the fact that it is written by Mycoskie himself. He is getting his name out there, but the story is, inevitable, not objective.

These examples are public relations orientated in a simple way. They are setting the agenda. The magazines have obviously been in contact with the company to write these stories – for instace, in the story that appeared in TIME, both of the photos are credited to Paige Mycoskie – Blake’s sister. These stories are getting the name TOMS out there for at lot of people to notice. What the audience does with this information, on the other hand, is a different question.