Skechers recently agreed to settle a class action lawsuit about its “Shape-Up” shoes to the tune of about $40 million dollars. At issue were claims that the shoes would tone your muscles without having to go to the gym. Their brand ambassador Kim Kardashian fawned on the shoes in commercials on TV and magazines – and it was wildly successful from a sales perspective. The problem was that their claims were bogus. Accompanying documentation described that a proper diet and other provisions would have to be adhered to in order to achieve the intended results, but even their fine print disclaimer couldn’t abdicate Skechers of their responsibility for their lie.
Here’s my dirty little secret: I have a pair of Shape-Ups and I love them. I didn’t get them for the passive fitness benefit, but at the time I had been carrying my two-year old on my back (for about two-years, actually) and my back and feet were sore. The Shape-Up shoe is one of the coziest walking shoes I’ve ever worn and were the only shoes that I could comfortably walk in. They have a thick, cushioned center that is like walking on lotion (I have to credit Aziz Ansari for that simile). I am no more toned than when I got the shoes, but that was never my intention. I love Shape-Ups and would buy them again.
I know first hand that Skechers Shape-Ups are an extraordinarily product. I also know that a promise of passive fitness benefit is a huge marketing opportunity. Only one of those claims is authentic though, and Skechers opted for easy money at the expense of their integrity. One only needs to read through the press releases of most corporations to understand that Skechers took the road often traveled, and it’s both a sad state for these businesses and a huge opportunity for businesses that preserve their brand reputation. Whether in social media, traditional media, or in our everyday lives, brands with integrity are special. The Shape-Up shoe had the potential for that for Skechers but they chose the low road.
In the blogosphere, John Boyle’s “BrandFlair” sets the bar for integrity. His ethos is the absolute opposite of Skechers, and what I’ve appreciated about his work over the past year both in reading his blog and from getting to know him through social media is that he approaches branding and social with a “white-hat” mentality. Some might propose his Seattle upbringing or Jesuit education flavor his viewpoint (two things we share), but regardless of what influenced him John has built his brand with an integrity and sincerity that I deeply admire. I want to publicly wish Brand Flair a happy anniversary and many more years advising us how to build brands the right way and how to strengthen the trust we receive with meaningful social touch points.
And a sincere thank you to John for the work you’ve put into the site and your social media presence. The mark of a true leader is leadership by example – and true leader is an apt description for you and your work. Congrats!