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Stealing Your Competitor's Cause Marketing Approach

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then TOMS Shoes must be beaming with pride.

Skechers a brand of shoes that occupies the vast middle range of pricing and quality offers a line called, I kid you not, BOBS, which promises to give a new pair of shoes to a needy child when you buy a Shoe Carnival gift card valued at $25 or more through Dec. 24.

TOMS, of course, did more than anyone to popularize this buy one, give one approach (BOGO) by giving away a free pair of TOMS Shoes to a needy child in the developing world every time you buy a pair.

TOMS, famously, has never purchased any advertising, even though it enjoys fabulous word of mouth. Something I contributed to early on.

Every time I see someone wearing a pair of TOMS Shoes I ask them about it. Without exception they’ve all heard of the BOGO, although most tell me that isn’t why they bought them.

TOMS Shoes come in kids sizes and even the kids I’ve talked to about them report much the same thing. Except that, if anything, with kids the cause message seems even more resonant.

A local clothing retailer in my market has a lame radio ad out wherein all the friends a kid talks to got TOMS for Christmas but him, and boy does he feel left out!

You can even find a hot secondary market in TOMS Shoes on eBay and elsewhere.

This kind of cheap me-to cause marketing is inevitable, of course, and totally legal. Dannon yogurt, for instance, does a me-to effort benefiting a breast cancer charity, very similar to Yoplait’s long-established effort on behalf of Susan G. Komen.

Inevitable or not, it's still comes off as underhanded.

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