Reebok paid $25 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges of false and deceptive advertising. Although Adweek reports that Reebok disputes the FTC’s charges, Reebok agreed in sttling the charges that it is prohibited from making unsupported claims that consumers could strengthen and tone their muscles simply by wearing Reebok EasyTone and RunTone shoes.
One ad features a fitness instructor explaining which muscles benefit from wearing the shoes while the ad focuses on her very fit derriere. Although consumers watching the instructor may not have focused on her lesson, the FTC said that the Reebok instructor was quite specific, stating that “the shoes are proven to strengthen hamstrings and calves by up to 11 percent, and that they tone the buttocks “up to 28 percent more than regular sneakers, just by walking.” Apparently Reebok could not substantiate these specific percentages because, under the FTC settlement, Reebok is barred from:
- making claims that toning shoes and other toning apparel are effective in strengthening muscles, or that using the footwear will result in a specific percentage or amount of muscle toning or strengthening, unless the claims are true and backed by scientific evidence;
- making any health or fitness-related efficacy claims for toning shoes and other toning apparel unless the claims are true and backed by scientific evidence; and
- misrepresenting any tests, studies, or research results regarding toning shoes and other toning apparel.
Consumers may seek a refund through the FTC if they purchased the shoes.