Through its routine monitoring of advertising directed to children, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”), became aware of Stride Rite Children’s Group, LLC’s (“Stride Rite”), television ad for Leepz shoes. The ad features a young boy wearing Leepz jumping to increasingly higher heights, ultimately jumping high enough to eclipse the sun while doing a back flip and giving a floating frog a high-five. A voice-over is present throughout the ad, beginning with the statement “Introducing Leepz, the incredible shoe with sky-high technology” and ending with “Reach new heights with Leepz!”
CARU had two concerns with the ad. First, CARU questioned whether there was substantiation for the implied claim that wearing Leepz would enable children to jump higher. Second, CARU questioned whether there was substantiation for two express claims made in the ad: (i) “Leepz, the incredible shoe with sky-high technology” and (ii) “Reach new heights with Leepz!”
CARU determined that, with respect to the implied claim, one reasonable message that children would take away from the ad was that wearing Leepz could enable them to jump incredibly high. In reaching this determination CARU relied, in part, on the ad’s depiction of a boy jumping so high that he eclipsed the sun while remarking “See ya, gravity.” CARU found that the combination of visuals of the boy jumping over the sun with above-mentioned audio statement would lead children to believe that Leepz would enhance their ability to jump very high. Stride Rite’s use of a super that stated “does not make you jump higher” did not alter CARU’s decision. Indeed, CARU has held that the use of a super in television ads directed to children is not an adequate means of conveying material facts. Due to Stride Rite’s failure to provide any evidence to support the implied claim, CARU determined that the claim was not substantiated.
CARU was also not convinced by Stride Rite’s assertion that “sky-high” technology was meant to convey that Leepz employed “high-tech“ technology as evidenced by the lights embedded in the shoes. Instead, CARU found that the express claim that “Leepz, the incredible shoe with sky-high technology” communicated the message that the technology in the shoe would allow children to jump to incredible heights.
Although fantasy, through the use of computer-generated imagery, may be appropriate in advertising directed to children, it should not be used to create unattainable performance expectations nor exploit children’s difficulty in distinguishing between fantasy and reality.
The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that Stride Rite Children’s Group LLC, the maker of children’s “Leepz” footwear, discontinue advertising claims that imply wearing the shoes allows children to jump inordinately high or state that the shoes are made with “sky-high” technology.