BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends Skechers Modify Broadcast Advertising For ‘Hy-tops’ To Better Comply With CARU Guidelines

New York, NY – Nov. 23, 2009 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CARU) has recommended that Skechers modify broadcast advertising for its    Hy-Tops sneakers to better comply with guidelines regarding product presentation.

Advertising for Skechers Hy-Tops came to the attention of CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, through CARU’s routine monitoring.

The commercial opened with a visual of Hydee, a student, walking through the hall at school as a voiceover states “HyDee’s the girl who knows what’s cool in school.”

As the children watch HyDee, the voice over states “What’s she wearing today? Those are so cute! They’re fresh! They’re cool!”

HyDee snaps her fingers and a group of adoring girls surrounds her. She snaps them again to open her locker, which is adorned with pictures of Hy-Tops.  She snaps her fingers a third time and a nearby boy turns into a frog. The commercial closes with a picture of HyDee lying across a Skechers logo.

CARU was concerned that one reasonable takeaway message children may have after viewing the commercial is that wearing Hy-Tops will make them popular. CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising states in part that product presentation should not “mislead children about benefits from use of the product. Such benefits may include, but are not limited to, the acquisition of status, popularity … .”

The advertiser argued that the commercial makes no express or implied claim that Hy-Tops will make anyone “cool, hot, fresh or cute.”  Further, the advertiser noted, the commercial is an animated fantasy that employs unrealistic cartoon effects.

The advertiser maintained, as well, that the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the Shoes will eliminate any possibility of confusion.  Skechers explained that due to its price point, the shoes would typically only be purchased with the aid of an adult and likely tried on prior to purchase. The advertiser noted, as well, that the company has received no consumer complaint regarding the product.

Following its review, CARU determined that children viewing the commercial might take away the message that wearing Hy-Tops will make them popular.  

In reaching its determination, CARU found the primary focus of the advertisement to be HyDee and her popularity. The commercial reinforced the connection between what children wear and their status. 

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it disagreed with “CARU’s characterizations of their commercial and the decision in this matter.”

However, the company said, the commercial “ended its scheduled flight and there are no plans to run it again at this time.  Therefore, in the interests of advertising self-regulation, the advertiser will comply with this decision and will take CARU’s Guidelines into consideration in future advertisements.”