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Reebok settles product liability suit with the FTC

The athletic shoe and apparel company, Reebok, has decided to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over product liability issues that stem from the company’s toning shoes. Reebok promised consumers that their RunTone running shoes and EasyTone walking shoes would strengthen muscles in the legs, thighs and buttocks. The shoe company’s promises have not been scientifically proven and as a result the Federal Trade Commission charged Reebok with false advertising.

Toning shoes are designed with a round or unstable heel that shoemakers say forces the user to use more muscle to remain balanced while walking. In 2009, Reebok released its two versions of toning shoes called EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes. During the initial debut of the shoes, advertisements for the shoes featured attractive women with in-shape buttocks. At one time a commercial for the company claimed the toning shoes would “make your boobs jealous.”

Reebok also advertised that its EasyTone walking shoes were proven to improve buttock strength and tone by 28 percent in comparison to normal walking shoes and would improve hamstring and calf muscle strength and tone by 11 percent. The Federal Trade Commission took issue with the claims and argued such claims could not be made without scientific evidence.

Reebok will pay $25 million to settle charges made by the Federal Trade Commission, but the shoe company does not agree with the FTC’s allegations and claims they have anecdotal evidence that demonstrates the shoes’ effectiveness.

Recently, other shoemakers that produce similar toning shoes have reframed their advertising from guarantees of muscle improvement to inspiring fitness.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “Reebok to pay $25M over toning shoe claims,” Sarah Skidmore, Sept. 28, 2011

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