Vibram Five Fingers: No Booty, No Bueno

September 30, 2011
Posted in Sneakers
September 30, 2011 Nick Engvall

Vibram Five Fingers: No Booty, No Bueno

Kim Kardashian's Skechers ads could have saved Vibram Five Fingers. (photo by Nick Saglimbeni)Earlier this week there was a lot of buzz in the sneaker community about the lawsuit against Reebok claiming that “toning shoes” actually did anything the company claimed. Though Reebok will have to pay $25 million back to consumers for false advertising, they’ve reportedly made over $300 million in their toning category. The $275 million profit is just a simple reminder to anyone who wants to sell something that if you sell enough, it doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, profits will come, under one condition…add sex.

The Reebok ads for their Easytone product were nice and booty-ful. Not quite to the level of best ever that Kim Kardashian and Skechers reached, but for the average female shopper, apparently they had the right approach. Reebok is continually bringing out “innovative technology” and the Easytone is really just another great example of that. Beginning with The Pump, moving on to the early 2000’s with their blowjob inspired ads, and as recently as Easytones and Zig technology, Reebok has used “creative” ways to get bad press, which is of course, is good. Though, I actually find the Zigtech to be pretty comfortable, I can’t say that it’s anything like an energy drink for your feet. That’s alright though, I’m sure Erin Andrews earned them the free pass on that slogan for the short time she was involved.

So what about less sexy technology claims in the footwear industry?

Well, the same day that everyone was buzzing about Reebok’s Easytone lawsuit, which I would argue is the best thing that could have happen to them right now considering their current position in the market and marketing efforts, the people at Vibram also had some bad news dropped on them. There of course is probably not a single person in the entire world that claim that Vibram Five Fingers are even an ounce of sexy, so the report from the American Council on Exercise went virtually unnoticed. The report, which evaluated 16 healthy (Reebok used 5 for Easytones), injury-free female subjects, ages 19 to 25, all of whom were considered recreational joggers, basically said that if you don’t adapt to a new way of running, Vibram Five Fingers are more dangerous than helpful.

“The bottom line is that runners must first and foremost modify their running style for ultimate safety and benefit, and this should be done gradually through regular practice. Once that is achieved, Vibram FiveFingers can be a safe and effective shoe for those who want to experience the feel of barefoot running.” – Cedric Bryant Ph. D, Chief Science Officer for ACE

Now, I have never bought any toning shoes, but as an educated consumer, I believe that common sense applies to every product you purchase. I mean, nobody needs a disclaimer to use a knife differently than a fork and they’re both eating utensils. Why is it that there is no accountability to the end user of the product in footwear with shoes like Easytones?

Easy lesson to learn, sex sells, apparently even to the FTC. Or maybe they get a cut of the $275 million in profit?

Vibram Five Fingers Bad For Your Back?So, if you’re going to use a gimmicky “technology” then pick someone or something sexual to represent it and everyone will forget about it, or at worst, they’ll be distracted enough that you’ll only be forced to pay back a minimal amount compared to what you made.

Vibram’s Five Finger shoes will probably avoid any kind of lawsuit for two reasons. The first is that the government only cares about consumer’s money, not their physical health. The second reason is that they are really just that ugly. The good thing is that if Vibram does find themselves in the midst of a lawsuit, they can just forward the bill over to Fila.

The only solution to all of these problems, and to prevent further lawsuits, is for APL to have Sofia Vergara demonstrate how their shoes make you jump higher. Then all would be right in the world of gimmicky shoes.

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Nick Engvall

Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, StockX, and Stadium Goods better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.

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