I’m sure all of you have heard about Vibram’s Five Finger shoes settlement by now. If not here’s a little refresher from the Washington Post: Somewhere in the middle of the last decade, someone at the Vibram company had a brainstorm, the kind of once-in-a-career inspiration that undoubtedly is studied at business schools across the land. What if instead of marketing our FiveFingers shoe to the small community of boaters who use them to secure their footing on wet, slippery surfaces, we could convince tens of millions of people that they should run the streets in them? That running in flat, cushionless shoes with individual pockets for each toe is, in fact, better for your health than protecting your feet with all that soft, high-tech razzmatazz?
Here’s the problem. There has been zero evidence of these shoes being better for one’s health. As such, Vibram is settling in a major class action lawsuit that will be refunding some $3.75 million to people who have bought their shoes. Technically Vibrant isn’t admitting anything but the fact that they’re settling speaks volumes. Clearly someone just decided to take a serious shortcut and get on the “health” bandwagon to bolster sales. While that may have worked, it clearly backfired.
Here’s something that will always backfire. When you get your inspiration to create a revolutionary shoe from Al Bundy you’re bound to wind up in trouble at some point. How come no one talks about this enough? Sure it was brought up back in 2010 but come on. Can’t we have a “God’s Shoe has to pay refunds to its customers” headline or something? Doesn’t anyone realize The Five Finger shoe is Al Bundy’s God Shoe anymore?
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