January 05, 2011
Power Balance bracelets, the popular performance accessory worn by athletes including Drew Brees, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, provide no scientific edge, the company confessed this week.
The California-based company was forced to admit the lack of evidence supporting its claims of natural power after coming to an agreement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Associated Press reported.
Athletes who wore the bands insisted they provided a boost. Science said otherwise.
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The bracelets, first released in 2007, were embedded with holograms and supposedly designed to interact with the energy flow of a body. They sold for $29.95 and were worn by athletes and celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal, David Beckham and Robert De Niro.
Power Balance expected sales of $35 million in 2010. With the confession that the bands are more charm than power source, that total could drop in 2011. If, indeed, that's what happens, the company has no one to blame but itself.
Why even bother making the claim that the bracelet gave power? Why not dance around the issue and refuse to make a definitive statement about them? Issue vague comments about natural energies and positive karma (like a hippie selling a crystal at a Phish show) and let fans of the product do the rest of the promotion by word of mouth.
Just like lucky socks, those titanium necklaces worn by baseball players or that $5 putter you bought from a sale rack at a pro shop, the only benefit derived from the Power Balance bracelet is the idea that it makes you better. Belief is a powerful thing; just watch a basketball player during a hot shooting streak or a golfer with the yips. Deep down we all know wearing the same sweatshirt on NFL Sunday doesn't change the outcome of our favorite team's game, but we wear it anyway, just in case.
Nobody really cares if the bracelet actually provides any positive effect, they just care that they think it does. By claiming the former, Power Balance caused people to doubt the latter.
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