Toms urges Chinese to kick off their shoes for children

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For the first time, the shoe brand brings its "One for One" pledge to China

BEIJING — Toms, the US shoe brand known for its "One for One" pledge that benefits people in need with every purchase, is kicking off a month-long brand-activation program in China.  "One day without shoes" promises to help a child in need in exchange for naked-foot selfies.

The initiative is in its inaugural year in China. Between May 5 and 21, 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 the Chinese social platforms Weibo and Wechat, Toms will rely on influencers to spread the word.

Selected retail stores in China will have "barefoot photobooths" set up where consumers can take off their shoes and step onto surfaces that re-create the soil of Argentina and Nepal.

To reward participation, customers will get an added 20% off any purchase over RMB1000 ($161) on TMall between May 16 and 21. 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 May 21, with Toms 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.

According to Jen Loong "kung-shoe master" with Toms China, "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."

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