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Reebok to pay $25 million over charges of deceptive advertising of toning shoes

Consumer Reports News: September 28, 2011 12:38 PM

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Reebok will pay $25 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission that advertising of EasyTone and RunTone Shoes was deceptive and made unsupported claims that the shoes strengthened and toned muscles.

Ads for the shoes claimed that sole technology featuring pockets of moving air created “micro instability” that toned and strengthened muscles as the wearer either walked or ran. Toning shoes typically have thickened, sometimes curved soles. The FTC complaint 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. Beginning in early 2009, Reebok made its claims through print, television, and Internet advertisements. The claims also appeared on shoe boxes and retail store displays.

In a press release today, David Vladeck, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated that “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.”

The funds from the Reebok settlement will be made available for consumer refunds either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit. Consumers who bought Reebok toning shoes or toning apparel can submit a claim here. EasyTone and RunTone shoes sold for about $80 to $100 per pair, while EasyTone flip flops retailed for about $60 a pair.

Under the 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.
  • Misrepresenting any tests, studies, or research results regarding toning shoes and other toning apparel.

Previous coverage of toning shoes:
Toning shoes may leave you wobbly—or worse
Toning shoes: One false step can lead to the ER
Are toning shoes unsafe? Reports of injuries raise concern
Skechers Shape-Ups: A wobbly experience

Reebok to Pay $25 Million in Customer Refunds To Settle FTC Charges of Deceptive Advertising of EasyTone and RunTone Shoes [FTC]

Maggie Shader

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