CARU Recommends Reebok Discontinue Certain Claims for ZigTech Sneakers

New York, NY – June  7, 2011 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that Reebok discontinue claims made in print advertising that might suggest Zigtech sneakers help children perform better in sports.

Print advertising for the Zigtech sneaker came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s routine monitoring practices. 

 The shoe, constructed with a zig-zag shaped sole, was prominently featured in the center of the advertisement at issue, along with a rendering of a child jumping to catch a football. 

 The text at the bottom of the advertisement stated: “Now for kids too.  Try the shoe with the energy boost.  Its unique zigzag shaped sole propels you forward with every step.” 

Upon its initial review, CARU questioned whether the advertisement could mislead children about the benefits of wearing the shoe or about the shoe’s performance or characteristics.

 In response to CARU’s inquiry, the advertiser provided evidence related to the energy efficiency of the shoe’s design and argued that the advertising claims at issue could be understood, even by children, as an energy-efficiency message.

 CARU found, however, that children could believe, upon seeing the advertisement, that the shoe would help them perform better in sports, a message that was not supported by the advertiser’s evidence. CARU concluded that the advertising at issue could give rise to interpretations beyond those intended by the advertiser or supported by the advertiser’s evidence. CARU recommended the advertiser discontinue the claims at issue.

 Reebok, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company supports “CARU’s efforts to promote self-regulation.  Although it believes that the claims adequately reflect the underlying research that substantiates the energy return technology inherent in Zigtech sneakers, Reebok agrees to take CARU’s determination about the possible takeaway by children of a broader message into account in future advertising.”