In September, when we figured out that the Federal Trade Commission was about to announce a mammoth settlement with a major shoe company over deceptive “toning shoe” ads, we guessed it was either Reebok or Skechers. Well, we were right about Reebok and it looks like Skechers is preparing for the possibility that it could end up paying out millions to the FTC.
AdAge reports that Skechers’ most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission notes that the company is under the microscope for its Shape-Up line of toning sneakers, including “highly publicized negative professional opinions, some negative publicity and media attention, personal injury lawsuits and attorneys publicly marketing their services to consumers who were allegedly aggrieved by the marketing of our toning products or injured by Shape-ups.”
The company revealed that it has been responding to requests for information regarding its claims and advertising from regulatory agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
From the SEC filing:
While we believe that our claims and advertising, with respect to our core toning products, are supported by scientific tests, expert opinions and other relevant data and while we have been successful in defending our claims and advertising in several different countries, we have discontinued using certain test results and we periodically review and update our claims and advertising… Based on discussions with the FTC staff, we do not believe that the FTC’s pending inquiry into our toning products will likely end in a closure letter assuring no further regulatory action…
We believe our products are safe and are defending ourselves from these media stories and injury allegations… It is too early, however, to predict the outcome of the ongoing inquiries and whether such an outcome will have a material effect on our advertising, promotional claims, business, results of operations or financial position.
Skechers has an overwhelming 60% share of the toning shoe market, which is a $1.1 billion category worldwide in 2010.