Before I step on any toes by inadvertently insulting anyone (great disclaimer, no?), let me hasten to showcase how slow and behind-the-times I myself am: I had not even heard of TOMS shoes until a week ago or so. This in spite of the fact that I used to work across the street from a shoe store here in town that sold and even advertised TOMS in their window display. I saw the unmistakable flag in the window but had no reason to put one and one together. Frankly, the logo conjured nothing in my mind more than the national flag of Argentina…
and an inscrutable curiosity wondering what “TOMS” could be an acronym for, since it was in all-caps and without any apostrophe.
I rather suspect I am not the target audience for any consumer product, much less anything having to do with fashion, but if I had been included in some sample survey or focus group, I would never have guessed in a million years that a flag with two blue horizontal stripes separated by a white one — or a blue field emblazoned with a white stripe — with a corporate logo reading “TOMS” would have anything to do with footwear. Indeed, just for kicks, a quick Google search of “what does TOMS stand for” brings up the following:
1. Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer
2. Telecom Operations Management Systems
3. The male of various animals, such as turkeys or cats.
They b(u)yline of TOMS is “shoes for tomorrow,” so I can only infer that “toms” is short for tomorrow. Still, as a marketing gimmick, the whole thing is lost on me — but not just for abstract advertising purposes: I myself would not buy a pair of TOMS shoes in the first place, in part because I can’t even afford the flimsy-looking things, but mostly because it represents many of the key problems with charitable giving by way of corporate profit, up to and including the irony of the law of unintended consequences together with its hell-paved path of best intentions. Read the rest of this entry »