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Skechers Accused of Dastardly Shoe Deception

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It was revealed on Wednesday that the government is coming down hard on shoe maker Skechers (NYSE: SKX) 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 figure.

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 science".

That is what Skechers employed. It is far from the first, and it won't be the last.

Follow me @BCallwood.

Posted-In: News Retail Sales Legal


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