Ethos in Advertising: TOMS Shoes

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In class on Monday, my students examined the ethos, pathos, and logos of commercials and print advertisements.  Knowing the difference between the three modes of persuasion can really help pinpoint what an ad is trying to do, and this analysis can lead to smarter (and, hopefully, less) purchasing.

Today, I thought of the perfect example of ethos in advertising: TOMS Shoes.  The TOMS website explains, “In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers” (Source).

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When I first saw a pair of TOMS, I thought they were hideous.  When I first heard the story of TOMS, I was so inspired that I immediately purchased my first pair of red shoes.  They are super comfortable, but even more than that, I see beauty now when I look at a pair of TOMS on someone’s feet.

The company is trustworthy.  We know they honor their commitment to “One for One” because of Blake Mycoskie’s story and track record.  On their website, TOMS keeps track of their mission: “And thanks to our amazing customers, as of September 2010, TOMS has given over one million pairs of new shoes to children in need around the world” (Source).  TOMS has a strong, honorable reputation and a proven commitment to helping others.  Consumers can identify with TOMS because of these examples of the company’s ethos.  For more proof of TOMS’ ethos, check out this video:

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Do you own a pair of TOMS?

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