Reebok International Ltd. has agreed to pay $25 million in refunds to consumers who bought its toning shoes to settle allegations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission of deceptive advertising.
Customers who have purchased the toning shoes and apparel can go to ftc.gov/reebok to apply for refunds. The process will be overseen by a federal judge. It is not clear whether consumers will be reimbursed for all or a portion of their purchase price. The shoes range from $80 to $100.
The allegation was that Reebok falsely claimed that its toning shoes and other products strengthened muscles.
David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a news conference that Reebok made unsubstantiated claims about its EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes. Ads claimed that technology in the shoes' soles toned and strengthened muscles in the legs and buttocks.
Marketing campaigns, no matter how clever, sexy or funny, must start and must stick with product claims that are substantiated, Vladeck said.
The agency's investigation found Reebok was unable to back up those claims, Vladeck said.
Settling does not mean we agree with the FTC's allegations; we do not, said Reebok, which is owned by Adidas.
Reebok has also stopped manufacturing boxes and promotional materials with the deceptive claims, Vladeck said. The company also is barred from making claims about the efficacy of its toning shoes on muscle strength unless backed by scientific evidence.