Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Reebok pays $25m fine over toning shoe claims...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reebok pays $25m fine over toning shoe claims...

The US Federal Trade Commission have fined the sports shoe manufacturer Reebok 25 million dollars over unsupported claims for it's Easy Tone and Run Tone shoes. Reebok had claimed that these toning shoes would "strengthen and tone key leg and buttock (gluteus maximus) muscles more than regular shoes". The US FTC ruled these advertising claims were false.

Toning shoes - which are designed with unstable soles so leg muscles have to work harder in order to maintain balance during everyday activities - were the fastest growing segment in the footwear industry in 2010, with sales soaring to $1.1 billion from $350 million in 2009, according to Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOne Source. The shoes were sold at a premium of roughly $100 a pair.

Adidas, the parent company of Reebok said that they had settled with the commission "to avoid a protracted legal battle". "Settling does not mean we agreed with the FTC's allegations; we do not," Adidas added.

The FTC said Reebok began making the claims in early 2009 and provided statistics about the alleged benefits. The $25m penalty will go towards consumer refunds. "The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science," said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection.

And the moral of the story? As with all advertising, be sceptical with any claims made. The running shoe market is huge with billions of Euro/Dollars worth of shoes sold each year. In a crowded market, claims are made to try and stand out from the crowd. So whether it's the usual running shoe, the latest and greatest or those minimalist barefoot type shoes, do your homework before you part with your cash.

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