Power Balance energy hologram bracelet

Power Balance is a brand of hologram bracelet once claimed by its manufacturers and vendors to “use holographic technology” to “resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body”, and increase sporting ability.[1] Numerous independent studies of the device found it to be completely ineffective at improving athletic performance, and the manufacturer was forced to retract its claims in 2010.

The product was promoted through paid celebrity endorsements[2] and viral marketing rather than published scientific work.[3] Power Balance bands became a fad among professional sportsmen in 2010, leading one journalist to say that “a growing number of professional sportsmen and their attendants are starting to sound like New Age crystal healers.”[1]

Power Balance initially denied that they made any medical or scientific claims about their products,[4] but after an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruling, Power Balance were forced to recognize and retract their medical claims.[5] The company has been the focus of significant criticism, particularly for false advertising. It has been described as “like the tooth fairy”[6] and a “very successful marketing scam”.[7]

In December 2010, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) required Power Balance to do several things, including making the following statement admitting they “engaged in misleading conduct”:

“In our advertising we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility. We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974. If you feel you have been misled by our promotions, we wish to unreservedly apologize and offer a full refund.”[5]In January 2011, a suit was filed against the company for fraud, false advertising, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.[8] Power Balance agreed in September 2011 to settle the class action lawsuit. The settlement terms entitled Power Balance purchasers to a full $30 refund plus $5 shipping. A hearing to finalize the agreement was canceled after Power Balance filed for Chapter 11 protection.[9]In November 2011, Power Balance filed for bankruptcy after suffering a net loss of more than $9 million that year.[10]

Evidence

Chiropractic researchers from RMIT‘s School of Health Sciences recently (2011) reported the results of an independent, randomized and controlled trial with double blind design. They found no difference in balance between people using a real holographic wristband and those wearing a placebo.[11]

On October 28, 2010 Olympic champion gymnast Dominique Dawes, working forYahoo Weekend News and Independent Investigations Group (IIG), tested Power Balance bracelets for their claim that they improve balance, flexibility and strength. She states “The fact is, all athletes know that nothing can replace good old-fashioned hard work—practice, practice, practice…Can a silicone wristband with a hologram sticker really give you an added edge?” According to IIG investigator Dave Richards “There was one ‘legitimate’ Power Balance bracelet, and 3 ‘sham’ bracelets that had the hologram removed from them. The experiment was double-blinded, all bracelets were wrapped with tape so no one present knew which bracelet was real and which were fakes. Neither the participants nor the people recording the scores knew which bracelet was ‘real’ until after all participants had completed their runs and their scores were recorded.” The results indicated that there was no benefit for those that had a real holographic bracelet compared to those who had a placebo.[12][13][14]

In December 2009, an informal double-blind test was performed on the Australian television program Today Tonight, led by Richard Saunders from the Australian Skeptics. The results showed strong evidence that any effect of the holograms is too small to measure against the placebo effect.[15]

A study at the University of Wisconsin tested the effects of Power Balance bracelets on a group of NCAA athletes. One set of the athletes received the Power Balance bracelet, while the other received a placebo bracelet. The athletes were subjected to tests of flexibility, balance, and strength, after which, the athletes switched bracelets and performed the tests again. The study found that the Power Balance bracelet had no effect, compared to the placebo, on the performance of the athletes.[16]

Ref.:

  1. ^ a b Power Balance bracelets: source of energy or just a gimmick?, Daily Telegraph, 15 October 2010
  2. ^ “Sports stars paid to endorse ‘magic’ wristband – Video”. 3 News. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  3. ^ Psyc3053, University of Queensland
  4. ^ a b Power Balance band is placebo, say expert, BBC News, 22 November 2010
  5. ^ a b c Statement on Power Balance Australia site
  6. ^ “Wristy business”, High Desert Daily Press, December 16, 2010
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