As we reported yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission was going to announce a huge settlement, involving millions in refunds to consumers, with some big name shoe company over deceptive advertising claims. And today it was revealed that it’s sneaker biggie Reebok that has agreed to fork over $25 million in refunds to buyers of its EasyTone shoes.
The settlement is over Reebok’s false claims that these shoes would provide extra tone and strength to leg and buttock muscles. Ads for the shoes claimed that sole technology featuring pockets of moving air creates “micro instability” that tones and strengthens muscles as you walk or run.
From the FTC:
Reebok made unsupported claims in advertisements that walking in its EasyTone shoes and running in its RunTone running shoes strengthen and tone key leg and buttock (gluteus maximus) muscles more than regular shoes. The FTC’s complaint also alleges that Reebok falsely claimed that walking in EasyTone footwear had been proven to lead to 28 percent more strength and tone in the buttock muscles, 11 percent more strength and tone in the hamstring muscles, and 11 percent more strength and tone in the calf muscles than regular walking shoes.
In addition to the refunds, Reebok is barred from the following:
* 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.
Between the settlement and the amount of money Reebok has spent marketing EasyTones, the company could ultimately be out nearly $90 million.
Reebok worked with ad agency DDB on campaigns for the products. It spent $23 million, or more than 80% of its total measured-media budget on advertising EasyTone in 2009, according to Kantar Media. In 2010, the athletic brand devoted $31 million to marketing EasyTone. And in the first half of this year it spent $10 million marketing toning products. And that’s just in the U.S.