We've been following the ad campaign for Reebok's EasyTone sneakers for quite a while, and it seems the FTC has, too. The AP is reporting that Reebok will pay $25 million in customer refunds, thanks to false advertising.

The FTC took issue with Reebok's ads that claimed its EasyTone footwear had been proven to lead to 28 percent more strength and tone in the buttock muscles and 11 percent more strength and tone in hamstring and calf muscles than regular walking shoes. The FTC said it could not disclose if it was pursuing similar actions against other shoe makers.

In a statement, Dan Sarro, a Reebok spokesperson, said, "Settling does not mean we agree with the FTC's allegations. We do not. We have received overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback from thousands of EasyTone customers." But the FTC's director David Vladek had an even better quote, as seen on Good Morning America today:

"Marketing campaigns, no matter how clever, sexy, or funny, must start — and must stick with — product claims that are substantiated."

So yeah, the shoes might work different muscles than you're used to, by making it harder to walk. But how do you measure if you're working 11% harder? According to the AP:

Shoe makers, including Reebok, have funded studies and say they have anecdotal evidence that proves they are effective. Several experts have questioned their validity and the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit fitness organization, conducted a study that found toning shoes failed to live up to the claims of shoe makers. However, the council said the shoes could be beneficial to one's health if they motivate people to get moving.

In other words, taking a walk in any kind of shoe is good for you. Imagine that.

Reebok To Pay $25M Over Toning Shoe Claims [Bloomberg Businessweek via AP]

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