It was revealed on Wednesday that the government is coming
down hard on shoe maker Skechers (NYSE:
) due to the deceptive nature of the company's ads which all-but
promised that, if you wear their shows, you'll develop a figure
like Kim Kardashian or Brooke Burke.
One would imagine that the American public had enough common
sense to know that a shoe cannot replace exercise and a healthy
diet. We have been pummeled with ads that have precariously
ridden the line of deception, apparently just staying on the
right side, for our entire lives. So, thanks government, but I
don't need to be told that SKX's claims that a Skechers shoe will
tone my tush is nonsense.
Still, the authorities think that this is a bigger deal than
that, and Skechers will pay $40 million to settle charges by the
Federal Trade Commission that the company made ridiculous claims
that the Shape-ups shoes can have such a drastic effect on your
Of course the claims are ridiculous. It's ridiculous to claim
that a Snickers bar will turn Betty White into an athlete. It's
ridiculous to claim that a sports drink can help you win a
marathon. It's ridiculous to claim that an under-arm deodorant
will help a man get girls in a bar.
We all know that ads exaggerate to enormous degrees, and we
are able to see through the fluff. As citizens of corporate
America, we have been trained from birth to see through ads.
Skechers is really no different.
"The FTC's message, for Skechers and other national
advertisers, is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your
claims," said David Vladeck, director of the agency's consumer
protection bureau. For millions of consumers, he said, "the only
thing that got a workout was their wallet."
It wasn't just the Shape Ups that went under the hammer,
either. The Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tine-Ups were also the
subject of exaggerated claims by SKX, says the agency.
Because, were Skechers to be completely honest, they would
have to say, "The Shape-up. It's a comfortable shoe that you may
or may not like."
Similarly, Snickers would say, "It's peanuts, it's chocolate,
it's a lot of sugar."
And those sports drinks would say, "Water is better for you,
but this tastes mildly fruity".
It is great to know that the FTC is coming down hard on
companies not being completely honest in their ads, but let's not
stop at Skechers. OK, so the FTC says that Skechers falsely
represented that clinical studies backed up the company's claims
about its toning shoes, but have you ever seen a toothpaste ad?
The ones that feature a graph with a line going up, but no
numbers on either side. Up line = good. We accept that, because
we know that there is such a thing as "nonsensical advertisement
That is what Skechers employed. It is far from the first, and
it won't be the last.
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