New York, NY – May 17, 2012 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit, in a case of first impression, has recommended that Skechers discontinue certain advertising claims made in broadcast advertising and on product packaging for the company’s “Active Club Shape-ups For Girls,” a toning shoe for girls.
CARU is an investigative arm of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory system and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The broadcast advertising at issue featured HyDee, an attractive, tall, slim teenager who sang and danced energetically, accompanied by the following jingle:
HyDee’s got new Shape-Ups. She’s got everything a girl wants.
She’s got the height, got the bounce.
Yeah, she’s looking good and having fun.
Cause HyDee’s got new Shape-Ups.
CARU identified the following implied claims in the broadcast advertising for the product:
Stay Fit… in Shape-Ups
Wearing Shape-Ups will make girls look taller; make girls look good and have fun; give them “everything a girl wants.”
CARU identified the following express claims on the product packaging:
- “You can wear your Shape-ups anywhere… which means you can help tone your muscles, improve your posture, and stay comfy all day long.”
- “Not only do Shape-ups take some of the pressure off your body, but the Kinetic Wedge puts a bounce in your step, which gives you extra all-day comfort and makes walking way more fun!”
- “Shape-ups give you an extra inch of height and help improve your posture, so you can stand taller!”
CARU opened its inquiry into Skecher’s advertising in May 2011, concerned that the broadcast advertising violated CARU’s guidelines, which state that:
The presentation should not mislead children about benefits from use of the product. Such benefits may include, but are not limited to, the acquisition of strength, status, popularity, growth, proficiency and intelligence.
The advertiser did not at that time provide CARU with any evidence to support claims made in the broadcast advertising, stating that any implied claims were puffery.
Although CARU requested product and packaging samples several times, the advertiser failed to provide products and packaging for CARU’s review.
However, after CARU completed its decision and prepared to announce its findings, the advertiser offered into evidence a number of studies regarding the product’s performance and provided certain correspondence regarding its packaging claims.
Following its review of the studies – which involved only adult shoes and adult subjects – CARU determined that the evidence was not sufficient to support the advertiser’s claims.
In response to CARU’s concerns about packaging, the advertiser initially stated that it had placed stickers on boxes advising consumers to “Disregard all fitness benefit claims.”
The advertiser also informed CARU that it is no longer making Shape-Ups for Girls and does not plan at present to advertise these shoes again.
The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it had “voluntarily abandoned the claims that CARU has identified and has discontinued production of this product and the related advertising materials.” The company also stated that it would take CARU’s findings into consideration in future advertising.