Celeb soles up for sale

Culture junkies and stargazers are bidding for a chance to get their hands on their very own pair of celebrity sneakers. On EBay.ca, Ellen DeGeneres's Nikes are up to $45. Ray Romano's cross trainers have scored $31 bids. And Mary Tyler Moore's shoes are fetching $36 so far.
Each pair of celebrity-autographed footwear is a part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's (JDRF) promotion for its annual Walk to Cure Diabetes fundraiser.

Culture junkies and stargazers are bidding for a chance to get their hands on their very own pair of celebrity sneakers. On EBay.ca, Ellen DeGeneres’s Nikes are up to $45. Ray Romano’s cross trainers have scored $31 bids. And Mary Tyler Moore’s shoes are fetching $36 so far.

Each pair of celebrity-autographed footwear is a part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) promotion for its annual Walk to Cure Diabetes fundraiser.

There’s no specific dollar target in mind, however organizers hope to surpass last year’s Toronto-only silent auction for star sneakers that netted $1,000. Given that this year’s crop of shoes is now available to more than 1.5 million Canadian users registered on EBay.ca, expectations are a little higher this time around.

Developed by Toronto’s Cohn & Wolfe, the auction runs from May 7 to June 11 in seven-day blocks. Each week, another group of shoes is put up, starting with actors, then musicians, followed by athletes and media personalities. It ends with a surprise auction in the final week. Everyone from Canuck rockers The Tragically Hip, to Raptors icon Vince Carter and pint-sized rap star Lil’ Bow Wow have supplied their own autographed shoes.

‘Given the huge number of charitable walks across Canada, it is critical to identify a unique hook that will pique Canadians’ interest,’ explains Michelle Nagy, an account executive at Cohn & Wolfe, which is the agency of record for both the JDRF and EBay.ca.

‘Sneakers are an intimate way for people to connect to their favourite celebrity,’ adds Zaheer Molu, the JDRF’s national marketing manager in Markham, Ontario. ‘Since [celebrities] are getting more and more guarded about their privacy, it’s nice for people to see them offering such a unique part of their life. You should see Lil’ Kim’s shoes: they’re tiny, 5-1/2-sized, $250 Nikes with her autograph and ‘Biggie Smalls Forever’ written on them. It’s so her. They’re an extension of her own brand.’

‘You’d be surprised how many celebrities wanted to get involved,’ he says. ‘Juvenile Diabetes is the type of disease that’s so widespread that almost everyone knows someone who has it. (Calgary Flames sniper) Jarome Iginla actively sought us out, and so did so many others.’

A second event is scheduled for May 26 to complement the awareness campaign. The World’s Largest Sneaker will be unveiled in Toronto and after that, it will visit other walks across the country from June 6 to June 9. Woodbridge, Ont.-based Compass Promotions constructed it for the JDRF last year and, weighing in at over 800 pounds, the monstrous, red canvas shoe received Guinness World Record status.

Since a cartoony sneaker is the JDRF’s international icon, the gargantuan shoe and the auction are a logical fit. While those promotions were chosen as creative activities that, with any luck, will generate a buzz and raise additional funds leading up to the walk, they are only one half of a larger awareness campaign that is running now on television and in newspapers across Canada.

The print and television spots, also developed by Cohn & Wolfe, are based on the question ‘what would it take to make you walk?’ Three 30-second commercials feature a man sabotaging various transportation routes, which includes him removing a stop sign, and taking the air out of someone’s tires. Billboards similar to the sabotage theme will be placed in Go Transit stations around the GTA and print ads will run in local papers across the country.