By Justin Herber

Justin Herber is a Writer, Director, and Creative Consultant. His clients include The Weinstein Company, TOMS, USA Network, REVISIT Products, Sephora, and Mullen Lowe. 


A couple of years ago, a group of department heads sat in a conference room discussing the upcoming seasonal campaign. The roundtable format that kept returning to the same question: how do we sell more product? Flash sales? Coupon codes? Reward programs? 


The goals seemed to be short term, moving product to hit numbers. While every business needs to hit sales goals, it was becoming clear that the brand wasn’t focused on selling what it was best known for - creating a better tomorrow. 


TOMS was founded on a simple idea - for every pair of shoes sold, a new pair would be provided to a child in need. The company evolved into selling eyewear, coffee, and bags that help benefit people in over 70 countries worldwide. TOMS wasn’t selling just products; but the idea that every purchase had the ability to improve someone else’s life - One for One. 


In taking a step back, there were new and unique opportunities to tell the story of impact within the forthcoming campaign. The giving department had recently partnered with Save the Children, allowing TOMS to expand giving in the United States, while the product team developed an athletic giving shoe that would promote a healthy lifestyle for the recipients. What emerged from the conversations was the desire to tell the story of how all the pieces come together to create the TOMS Ecosystem.

The challenge I put forth was to not only measure success in numbers, but also in letters - meaning written letters from customers, letters from giving recipients, and letters from partners. When all of those involved had a meaningful experience, we were telling the true story of One for One. 

The result was a brand film centered around Joey, an eleven-year-old aspiring basketball player from Kentucky. He was hard-working, kind, and had a great jump shot. The film focused on every participant’s desire to work hard to create the world they envisioned - a better tomorrow. Within an Ecosystem each part is interdependent, and that was the case with the TOMS Story as well. Joey had hopes and dreams that were made possible by the efforts of the customer, the giving partner, and the TOMS team, but he also fulfills the promise of creating a better tomorrow for them. Every piece is connected and works in harmony. After screening a cut of the film to a handful of people, it was followed by a silence and then a clearing of throats. The piece had moved them to tears. 


The TOMS Giving in the US Campaign video has received almost 4 million views. TOMS received a lift in PR stories, and most importantly countless letters and comments thanking them for giving in the US and for telling Joey’s story. 


While not every brand has the same mission as TOMS, it is still important to remember that the best brands tell a story and sell something beyond product. It is a creative’s job to help evoke that emotion. If the response is authentic and genuine, the numbers will follow. //