Washington—Remember all those claims that wearing certain “body-shaping” footwear would firm up your leg and fanny muscles?
Well, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) isn’t buying any of it. On Wednesday, the FTC announced it had reached a $25 million settlement with Reebok over claims the footwear brand made about its Easytone and RunTone products.
“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 wrote in its complaint.
Furthermore, the FTC alleges that Reebok made claims that weren’t backed up by scientific evidence, such as when Reebok said walking in EasyTone footwear had been proven “to lead to 28% more strength and tone in the buttock muscles, 11% more strength and tone in the hamstring muscles, and 11% more strength and tone in the calf muscles than regular walking shoes.”
Reebok: We Stand Behind Our EasyTone Technology
“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,” added David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Reebok responded to the FTC’s announcement Wednesday afternoon, defending its position in a statement: “We stand behind our EasyTone technology – the first shoe in the toning category that was inspired by balance-ball training. 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.”
The footwear in question from Reebok, which retails about $100 a pair, has supposed sold more than 5 million pairs in the United States and some 10 million abroad, according to Ad Age.
The $25 million settlement will be made available for consumer refunds either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit. Ftc.gov/reebok gives consumers the basic facts about the Reebok settlement and directs them to apply for a refund if they are eligible.
Reebok, a division of Adidas Group, isn’t the only shaper sneaker maker under scrutiny either. Manhattan Beach, California-based Skechers, which has about a 50% share of toning footwear market, disclosed in a securities filing last month that the FTC is reviewing its advertising claims. A California woman also filed suit against New Balance, accusing that athletic footwear brand of deceiving customers by promising its toning shoes create more sculpted legs than traditional walking sneakers.
Before purchasing fitness gear, the FTC advises consumers to read its guidelines How’s that Work-Out Working Out? Tips on Buying Fitness Gear