Reebok claimed the shoes helped its wearers to tone calves and thighs just by walking about. But like you there's a lack of robust scientific evidence. And these shoes have fallen foul of the ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK…
Jackie: Companies advertise their products a) to let people know these products exist and b) to persuade people to buy them. And for this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast we've each looked at a company whose product claims have been challenged. So Richard, what have you chosen to speak about?
Richard: Um… the Power Balance wristbands.
Jackie: Oh I'm looking forward to hearing [both laugh] about that and for me I've chosen er… another sporting product actually, the Reebok toning trainers. Richard, tell me more about your bracelet.
Richard: I noticed watching sport on TV for the last two, three years, a lot of sportsmen wearing these silicone bracelets. A lot of cricket players, golf players, tennis players, basketball players…
Jackie: I remember… Beckham had one.
Richard: Right okay David Beckham. So lots and lots of sportsmen have been wearing these things and um… they are said to improve balance, strength, flexibility.
Jackie: Oh, really?
Richard: That's what they've said and they have the slogan Performance Technology.
Jackie: What does that mean?
Richard: Well exactly, it doesn't really mean anything, does it? But um… there's a bit of controversy recently. They are an Australian company and the Australian government has um… forced them to stop claiming these things about their balance and strength…
Jackie: To retract the claim.
Richard: They've had to retract and… basically they've had to say the whole thing is a scam.
Jackie: Oh, really?
Richard: Well, they've got to say they have no beneficial effects whatsoever. [Jackie laughs] But they’re still selling. They sell, apparently a million wristbands every month.
Jackie: And how much do they cost?
Richard: Well, in England they’re thirty pounds each.
Jackie: Thirty pounds.
Richard: For a little piece of silicone wristband with a nice little hologram, a 3D hologram on the… on the front.
Richard: They don't advertise, they pay the sportsmen to wear them. But what they've done recently scientists have been um… doing tests on these things to prove that they have no effect. But it's the placebo effect.
Jackie: Right. People think that it's going to work and so it works.
Richard: Exactly. So these sportsmen can still say, “I think it benefits me, I think it made me a better player” so you can't refute those statements. So tell me about the Reebok trainers. What's the story there?
Jackie: Well, what… what Reebok claim is that it's a shoe that magically firms up your legs just while you stroll about.
Richard: So you don't need to run you’re just walking and getting fit or something are you?
Jackie: Reebok claimed the shoes helped its wearers to tone calves and thighs just by walking about. But like you there's a lack of robust scientific evidence. And these shoes have fallen foul of the ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK…
Jackie: …and they have banned the adverts on TV and in the magazines because they say these are just unsubstantial claims.
Richard: And have people actually complained about these trainers?
Jackie: Yes. The problem is of course is that unfit people have bought these shoes thinking that they were going to get, you know, better toned legs just by wearing them, and of course that didn't happen so they… they made complaints and that's when the ASA started to do… to do some investigation and as a result of that, the adverts were banned. At the end of the day, Richard, as far as these two sports products are concerned there's no substitute for training.
Richard: There certainly isn't