ACCC takes action against Reebok Australia for alleged false and misleading advertising

18 December 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Reebok Australia Pty Limited (Reebok Australia) for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law. The alleged conduct relates to Reebok Australia’s promotion of its Reebok EasyTone shoes.

The ACCC alleges that from September 2011 Reebok Australia made false, misleading or deceptive representations about EasyTone shoes, by claiming that if a person walked in a pair of EasyTone shoes, they would increase the strength and muscle tone of their calves, thighs and buttocks more than if they were wearing a traditional walking shoe.

The ACCC alleges that use of the EasyTone shoes would not result in these increases in strength and toning, and that Reebok Australia did not have reasonable grounds for making these representations.

“Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that accurate information is given to consumers, particularly where consumers may pay a premium to purchase products that are promoted as delivering particular benefits,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC alleges that Reebok Australia did not meet its obligations under the Australian Consumer Law to ensure the claims it made to consumers about the benefits of EasyTone shoes were accurate, and that it had reasonable grounds for making them.”

Reebok Australia has imported and sold Reebok EasyTone shoes in Australia from December 2009. These proceedings relate to alleged conduct since September 2011.  The ACCC alleges that from that date, Reebok Australia was aware that similar claims about the shoes were the subject of a settlement following enforcement action taken by the US Federal Trade Commission against Reebok International Ltd in relation to the same representations.

The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, injunctions, orders for corrective notices, non-party consumer redress and to establish and implement a compliance programme and costs.

A directions hearing has been set down for 14 February 2014 at 10.45am before Justice McKerracher in the Federal Court, Perth.

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