The FTC announced in a short press conference this morning that, pursuant to a settlement agreement entered into with Reebok, the retailer will pay $25 million into a fund that will provide refunds to consumers who purchased EasyTone or RunTone footwear and/or apparel. David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explained that advertisers cannot make claims about their products – particularly those related to health benefits – without having some substantiated basis for such claims.
Indeed, the FTC’s investigation called into question Reebok’s advertising campaign for RunTone and EasyTone footwear, which urged consumers to “take the gym with them” by wearing the Reebok shoes to get “better legs and a better butt with every step.” More specifically, Reebok represented to consumers that merely walking in EasyTone shoes was proven to tone and strengthen the gluteus maximus muscle 28% more than a typical walking shoe, and 11% more in the hamstring and calf muscles. As for the companion athletic shoe, the RunTone, Reebok claimed that running in these shoes increases muscle activation, toning, strength and endurance more than typical running shoes.
Ultimately, the settlement agreement, which was filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio this morning along with a formal complaint, expressly prohibits Reebok 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; and;
* misrepresenting any tests, studies, or research results regarding toning shoes and other toning apparel.
Click here to review the Stipulated Final Judgment and Order for Permanent Injunction and Other Equitable Relief (“settlement agreement”) in its entirety. Additional information regarding the FTC’s investigation or the settlement agreement can be found here.