Skechers Shape-ups shoes made unfounded claims of shedding pounds and toning muscles, FTC says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For overweight Americans, and those looking for a healthier lifestyle, the claim was almost too good to be true -- wear Skechers Shape-ups footwear and watch the pounds melt away. At a news conference Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission said the shoemaker's claims weren't true and alleged Skechers violated federal law by misleading consumers.

According to the FTC, Skechers agreed to pay a hefty $40 million fine to settle charges the California-based company deceived consumers by making "unfounded claims that Shape-ups would help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles."

The company enlisted high profile celebrities Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke to sell the shoes.

Besides Shape-ups, Skechers also made deceptive claims about other products including Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-up shoes, the FTC alleges.

"Skechers' unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles. The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health," said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

As part of the settlement, customers who bought Skechers "toning" shoes will be eligible for refunds either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit, officials said.

Wednesday's announcement was the culmination of a months-long investigation involving the FTC and attorneys general from 44 states and the District of Columbia.

FTC officials highlighted a Skechers television ad featuring the endorsement of chiropractor Dr. Steven Gautreau. In the ad Gautreau cited an "independent" clinical study he conducted testing the shoes' benefits.

The FTC said the study results Gautreau promoted weren't factual, and alleged the company hid the fact that Gautreau is married to a Skechers marketing executive. The FTC also said Gautreau was compensated for his endorsement, which wasn't made clear in the commercial.

Skechers introduced Shape-ups in 2009, and sales peaked a year later. The FTC called Skechers an industry leader in the booming business of toning footwear. Estimated sales were close to $1 billion industrywide in 2010, the FTC said. The toning shoes Skechers sold cost between $60 and $100 a pair.

As part of an expensive campaign to promote the fitness benefits of Shape-ups, the company unveiled a scantly dressed Kim Kardashian peddling the shoes during the Super Bowl in 2011.

Brooke Burke's ads claimed the shoes would help improve her cousin's posture, mother's legs and give her brother a tighter core. Additionally, Burke's ad told consumers "the newest way to burn calories and tone and strengthen muscles was to tie their Shape-up shoe laces," the FTC said.

"The FTC's message, for Skechers and other national advertisers, is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims," Vladeck said.

Under the FTC's settlement, the company is barred from any advertising making similar claims unless it's backed up by scientific evidence.

What Skechers plans to do with the Shape-ups brand remains to be seen. An ad featuring Burke touting "the next generation of Shape-ups" remained on the company's website Wednesday morning.

According to the FTC, the commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated. The FTC says despite Skechers agreement to pay a fine, the complaint is not a court ruling or an admission that the company violated any law.

 
™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


Comments

Read More

Jonathan Warrenfelt, Joshua Zeaya: Facial tattoo, bungled stickup leads cops to robbery suspects Jonathan Warrenfelt, Joshua Zeaya: Facial tattoo, bungled stickup leads cops to robbery suspects

The facial tattoo "Misunderstood" stood out to victims of a robbery at gunpoint in Dania Beach.

Ashley Taylor Wright threw her baby at a deputy at Pensacola Dillards, Okaloosa County police say Ashley Taylor Wright threw her baby at a deputy at Pensacola Dillards, Okaloosa County police say

A Pensacola woman, Ashley Taylor Wright, has been arrested after authorities say they tried arrest her for shoplifting and she threw the baby at a deputy as she tried to escape.

Stephen Amaral robbed while naked swimming woman distracts him Stephen Amaral robbed while naked swimming woman distracts him

A Tennessee man found this out the hard way when a woman dipped in his pool, naked, as her husband robbed his home.

Giant purple chicken stolen in Putnam County, three men charged with grand theft Giant purple chicken stolen in Putnam County, three men charged with grand theft

Putnam County investigators say it was "fowl" play when three young men stole a giant chicken.

Invisible man in Fort Pierce prefers his stolen cigarettes mentholated Invisible man in Fort Pierce prefers his stolen cigarettes mentholated

A man in Fort Pierce said he used his "powers of invisibility" to abscond with a carton of menthol cigarettes, but his conscience appears to have gotten the best of him.

David John Sirko: Suspected burglar left love notes, photos of underwear on head, deputies say David John Sirko: Suspected burglar left love notes, photos of underwear on head, deputies say

A Golden Gate Estates, Florida man was arrested Monday after Collier County sheriff's deputies say he broke into a woman's house, left her love notes and took photos of himself with her underwear on his head.

Randy Zipperer mac and cheese dispute: Florida man accused of stabbing brother after food disapears Randy Zipperer mac and cheese dispute: Florida man accused of stabbing brother after food disapears

Authorities say two Florida brothers got into a tussle over missing macaroni and cheese that ended with one stabbing the other in the stomach.

Walmart wedding: Wayne and Susan Brandenburg get married at Shallotte, North Carolina store Walmart wedding: Wayne and Susan Brandenburg get married at Shallotte, North Carolina store

For years, Wayne Brandenburg shopped at his local Wal-Mart three or four times a week. He never thought he'd pick up a wife, or marry her, there. But that's exactly what happened.

Man jumps on manatees video: YouTube, Facebook video posting investigated by wildlife officials Man jumps on manatees video: YouTube, Facebook video posting investigated by wildlife officials

Video of a man jumping on two manatees prompts legal investigation.

Filomena Tobias flips off Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls player, paper reports Filomena Tobias flips off Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls player, paper reports

The woman has been identified as Filomena Tobias, widow of CNBC commentator Seth Tobias, of Jupiter.