Culture Jamming Poster

WMST Culture Jamming TOMS Shoes

I decided to do my Culture Jamming Poster on the TOMS SHOES new ad campaign. We all have heard that if we buy a pair of TOMS Shoes, a free pair of shoes will be given to a child in a developing country, right? “When you buy a pair of TOMS Shoes, you’re also helping improve the health, education and well-being of a child.” That is the whole purpose of the “One for One” original campaign and movement. Before studying abroad in Beijing, China, I used to think that what this campaign was doing was amazing and that its message was an example to follow. Who doesn’t want to help children who can’t afford a pair of shoes to go to school in a least developing country while you’re also getting a pair? However, while living and studying in China for four months, I learned a lot about the culture, society, politics, economy, history, amongst other things that define the country. First of all, it is true when people say that Chinese imitations of brands are the best. Chinese people will imitate everything: from an exact replica of an iPhone to food products, almost identical to Nestle’s chocolate and ice-cream. One of the imitation brands that caught my attention the most was TOMS Shoes. The variety of designs and prints that the Chinese create for the imitations of TOMS Shoes is so overwhelming and captivating! They even have designs of their own that do not exist within the original shoes’ brand. Most tempting are the prices of each pair: US$5.00 the pair!!! Coming from a consumerist society like the United States, most of my friends would buy pairs and pairs of TOMS Shoes like crazy. I refused the idea of buying these imitations of shoes for cheaper and not contributing to the campaign’s cause. However, while in China I learned that a lot of the TOMS shoes and products were made in China in sweatshops by children, who definitely were not receiving any benefit from it. One of the great things of being a foreigner and living in a Communist country, where every source of media and information is censor, is that you get the opportunity to learn from first-hand experiences and testimonies about the types of lives and conditions under which people are living and working. Therefore, it was striking to find out that even one of the ‘most humanitarian’ campaigns I had known –TOMS Shoes ,–was actually using child labour in China to produce brand products and imitations of the brands for cheaper prices. China is internationally known for its poor restrictions and regulations against human trafficking and children exploitation. It is sad and disappointing to learn that the “One for One” campaign is more concern about the money they are saving by using Chinese child labour rather than maximizing the number they could help benefit from their campaign, particularly in the case of Chinese children workers. Definitely, the children working for TOMS Shoes will not have the opportunity to get an education as full-time illegal workers of this company.

 

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