Hanes Adds Sock to the Holidays with Charitable Drive on Facebook

Hanes yesterday announced that it will donate one pair of socks for every virtual pair its Facebook “fans” send to their friends — up to 100,000 pairs. The items will be distributed nationally via the clothing brand’s charitable partner, United Way.

Visitors to Hanes’ Facebook “fan” page will see a “Sock Drive” tab at the top of the page. Hanes, which has more than 16,500 Facebook “fans,” posted the following message yesterday morning: “Have you visited our new tab? This holiday season, Hanes and United Way are coming together to help bring socks to those in need. For every virtual sock you send to a friend, we’ll donate one pair to the United Way.”

Those who click the tab will see an application that includes “send socks” and “donate socks” buttons, as well as a “tell-a-friend” option. It also involves a “Sock-o-meter” that shows how many virtual socks have been sent. Participants can choose from three different styles of crew socks, ankle socks, and no show socks, respectively. A 140-character personalized message can be entered to go with the virtual socks.

The participants can deliver the virtual items via Facebook’s friend-to-friend mail system or by entering a recipient’s e-mail address. Recipients of the messages can then accept or ignore the item; either way, they will view a button to join Hanes’ “fan” group.

According to a spokesperson for the Winston-Salem, NC-based brand, the effort will carry through the holidays and perhaps into 2010. In other words, the campaign will last as long as it takes to get to 100,000 virtual socks. To promote the effort, the spokesperson said, “We will be using all of our social media properties.”

Indeed, the philanthropic initiative underscores Hanes’ growing social media play. It recently created a “Hanes Comfort Crew” that consisted of 12 bloggers who ranged from parents to fashion writers to brand advocates. It also launched the site, “Hanes Social Mix Hub,” which groups together and pushes the company’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

Meanwhile, Hanes’ campaign is yet another signal that consumer packaged goods firms may be looking to social media as a way to supplant more costly mass media spends. On Dec. 18, Pepsi announced it was sponsoring the upcoming “If I Can Dream”reality TV-styled show, which will appear exclusively on Hulu.com, and likely create a healthy dose of online peer-to-peer chatter.

And the day before, the Purchase, NY-based beverages and snacks brand said it had pulled out of advertising during the upcoming Super Bowl. “In 2010, each of our beverage brands has a strategy and marketing platform that will be less about a singular event and more about a movement,” Pepsi spokesperson Nicole Bradley told the Associated Press.

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