WASHINGTON — Reebok International Ltd. and other brands advertising that their products strengthen and tone muscles were put on notice by the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday, as the agency said Reebok will pay $25 million in refunds to consumers to resolve charges it deceptively advertised that its “toning shoes” would provide extra tone and strength to leg and buttock muscles.
“If you are an advertiser out there, remember the marketing campaign — no matter how clever, sexy or funny — must start and must stick with product claims that are substantiated,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, at a press conference at FTC headquarters here.
He said the agency had found insufficient scientific evidence to back Reebok’s claims that its EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes can strengthen certain muscle groups by a certain percentage.
“Since 2009, Reebok has urged consumer to ‘take the gym with them and to get better legs and a better butt with every step’ by claiming the instability created by its toning shoes increases the effects of a regular exercise routine and even provides health benefits to those who can’t find the time to exercise,” Vladeck said. “For the millions of Americans who paid up to $100 for a pair of Reebok toning shoes, Reebok’s claims didn’t withstand scrutiny.”
The settlement order and consumer refunds also extend to Reebok’s toning apparel, according to FTC officials, although the agency focused primarily on the footwear giant’s advertising and marketing of its toning shoes at the press conference.
The FTC’s complaint alleges Reebok made unsubstantiated claims in advertisements, which ran in print, and on TV and the Internet beginning in early 2009, as well as on shoe boxes and displays in stores that its toning shoes would strengthen and tone key muscles. The agency said 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.
Reebok’s EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes have retailed for $80 to $100 a pair, while EasyTone flip-flops have retailed for about $60 a pair. 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.
Reebok defended its toning products.
“We stand behind our EasyTone technology, the first shoe in the toning category that was inspired by balance-ball training,” the company said. “Settling does not mean we agree with the FTC’s allegations — we do not. We have received overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback from thousands of EasyTone customers, and we remain committed to the further development of our EasyTone line of products. Our customers are our number-one priority, and we will continue to deliver products that they trust and love.”
As part of the settlement, Reebok is prohibited from making claims in advertising or marketing that toning shoes and other apparel strengthens muscles or that using the footwear specifically will result in a specific percentage of muscle toning or strengthening unless they have the scientific evidence to support the claims. The footwear company also must refrain from making health or fitness-related efficacy claims and cannot misrepresent tests, studies or research regarding toning shoes and toning apparel.
The consumer refunds will be made available either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit, which is currently in the courts.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews