23 December 2010

Power Balance: Where's The Science?

Funnily enough I was looking at a "Power Balance: bracelet the other day in a sports apparel shop. I was having a little chuckle to myself as I was thinking about how much of a killing the makers were making when retailing these things for AUD 60 a bracelet. I saw some young bloke wearing two of them, on each arm! To be honest the chuckling was because I had not seen any "science" that backed up the claims that the bracelets in any way supported or improved performance.

The reality was a simple one; get a few famous people on board and wearing them. then let the marketing take care of itself. There are people in all markets who would want to be like David Beckham, Christian Ronaldo, Shaquille O'Neal, Rubens Barrichello, Kate Middleton, Benji Marshall, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss, and I think I have seen a few NFL players like Mark Sanchez wearing them too. The reality was an easy sell. I have seen hundreds, perhaps thousands of people wearing them.

The reality that people have been missing though is that these bracelets are currently a sham. There is no science to support claims that the bracelets improve athletic performance. The science is so lacking in this case that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has stepped in to ensure that the Australian arm of the company apologises to consumers for misleading them. 

Furthermore, Graeme Samuels, who heads up the ACCC, has demanded that the company offer to refund any disgruntled consumers who bought the bracelets thinking they were going to beat the world, in a sporting sense, but did not.

So, if you are wearing one right now, ask yourself this question: "Has the Power Balance bracelet made any significant changes to your balance, strength and flexibility since you started wearing it?" 

Truth be told, the Power Balance bracelet looks nothing more than a rubber band with a hologram on it. And, maybe that is exactly what it is: a AUD 60 rubber band!

Deliberately misleading the public about the claimed benefits of a product is likely to be a breach of the 1974 Trade Practices Act in Australia.

I wonder if the Indonesian National Soccer (Football) team has been wearing them? The national team has been doing very well of late. Their success might be all the "scientific proof" that the company needs to justify its claims!

These bracelets were first big in the United States. As far as I can tell, they are still big in the US. So, if the science is available in the US that makes the marketing of these performance tools legitimate there, then why cannot this be transferred to the Australian market? After all, I have seen Kobe Bryant in the advertising material along with Lamar Odom (Mr. Khloe Kardashian), Drew Brees, Matt Stafford, Willow Koerber, and Ricky Romero among others. Surely, all these people have not been duped into thinking that the bracelet works, have they? Surely, they would have seen the science and tested the product out and had results with it, right?

Sarcasm is not really my strong suit, is it?

Ho hum...

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