If the Shoe Commercial Doesn't Fit, Don't Buy It: Reebok Ads High on Objectification, Low on Value

November 12, 2009

by Meg Young

Our Bodies Ourselves intern

Reebok recently launched a new ad campaign for its women’s “Easy Tone” sneakers that is definitely not focused on feet. The shoe’s selling point is that the sole is supposedly constructed in such a way that it works the wearer’s hamstrings, calves and glutes as she walks, resulting in “better legs and a better butt with every step.”

From watching Reebok’s ads, however, one would think that the company is promoting lingerie, not a new fitness sneaker.

reebok_adOne of the ads begins with a close-up of a woman’s breasts in a bra, then pans to her panty-clad backside before briefly flashing a picture of the sneakers. In another ad, the bra is long gone as a faceless woman stretches her body — almost naked except for underwear and sneakers — over a bed. The only thing missing is porno-groove music. Oh wait, it’s there, too.

In the only ad depicting a woman wearing clothes (short shorts and an exercise tank top), she is unable to get the cameraman to focus on her face (instead of her behind) as she presents the virtues of “Easy Tone” sneakers.

YouTube has tagged the videos as “inappropriate for some users” and requires viewers to state that they are 18 before watching.

The late-night style ads aren’t the only bizarre thing about this sneaker campaign. Jami Bernard at WalletPop points to this warning on the Reebok website : “Due to the instability of the balance pods, activities with unplanned side-to-side movement and/or any lateral-movement -sports such as tennis or basketball-should be avoided.”

A fitness sneaker that you can’t play sports in? Huh?

Reebok’s website proclaims that upon wearing the sneakers, “88% of men will be speechless. 78% of women will be jealous.”

I’m 100 percent sure I can find a better way to spend $110.

Meg Young recently graduated from high school in Middlebury, Vt., and will enroll at Tufts University in the fall of 2010 after taking a gap year.

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