CARU Recommends Stride Rite Discontinue Claims that State, Imply ‘Leepz’ Shoes Help Children Jump Higher

New York, NY –  Jan. 9,  2017  – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that Stride Rite Children’s Group LLC, the maker of children’s “Leepz” footwear, discontinue advertising claims that imply wearing the shoes allows children to jump inordinately high or state that the shoes are made with “sky-high” technology.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. CARU monitors advertising to children in all media for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including guidelines on sweepstakes and promotions. CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claims in question were made in a 30-second commercial for the light-up shoes that aired during children’s programming. In certain versions of the commercial – which depicted children jumping distances of twice their height, soaring into the air or floating in front of the sun – there was a video super at the bottom of the screen stated: “Does not make you jump higher.”

CARU, in its initial inquiry, requested the advertiser substantiation for the implied claim that wearing Leepz will enable children to jump higher and for the following express claims:

  • Leepz, the incredible shoe with sky-high technology.
  • Reach new heights with Leepz!

Stride Rite, in response, said the shoes are made with innovative and sophisticated lighting, including multiple LEDs light up after each step in a sequence that is meant to evoke a bounce. Stride Rite asserted that it knows of no other product that uses the same advanced lighting technology. The advertiser contended that the phrase “sky-high technology” has the same meaning as “high-tech.”

Regarding the claim “Reach new heights with Leepz,” Stride Rite said the phrase is allegorical, not literal, and alludes to growing older and achieving new milestones.

Following its review, CARU determined that one reasonable message children could take from the ad was that wearing Leepz could enable them to jump very high.

In reaching its determination, CARU relied on the following: the commercial communicated both aurally and visually that the shoes would make children jump very high. It featured several segments where children appear to bounce and leap with each step and are shown jumping extremely high. In one sequence, children leap over tall structures on a playground; in another a boy jumps so high that he reaches and eclipses the sun, remains airborne long enough to do a 360-degree flip and high-five with an animated frog while remaining in the air. During this segment, a voiceover states “Introducing Leepz, with sky-high technology!” The voiceover then asks, “How high can you Leepz?” A young boy remarks, “See ya, gravity!” as he continues to float towards the sky. The last voiceover children hear is “Reach new heights with Leepz!”  CARU found that the combination of these audio statements in conjunction with the aforementioned visuals of jumping could lead children to believe that the Sneakers would enhance their ability to jump.

CARU considered but did not agree with Stride Rite’s assertion that unlike other products, footwear must be purchased under adult supervision.  Many advertised to children require adult assistance in the purchase process.  CARU has long held that a child’s first contact with a product is generally the advertisement itself and the fact that any confusion may be cleared up at a later time does not cure a misleading advertisement.

Further, CARU determined that the advertiser’s reliance on its inclusion of the video super, “does not make you jump higher,” was misplaced.  As CARU noted in its decision, it has consistently held that the use of video supers in television commercials directed to children, especially when small and difficult to read, are not an adequate means of conveying material facts – particularly to young children, who may not be able to read.

Stride Rite, in its advertiser’s statement, said that although the company believes “it is highly unlikely that a child will mimic the behavior in the commercial, if we elect to broadcast the commercial again we will first make modifications that address CARU’s concerns.”