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Reebok Is Seeking to Exorcise the Evil Spirit Within Its Shoes

From Associated Press

So you’re a bunch of highly paid creative types brainstorming on a namesake for a new athletic shoe. Michael Jordan . . . taken. Chuck Taylor . . . ditto.

Here’s an idea: Name a women’s running shoe after a mythical demon who preyed on sleeping women.

Reebok did. Now the footwear maker is having a devil of a time trying to correct its embarrassing mistake.

Reebok International Ltd. said Wednesday that it was considering ways to backtrack after finding that its Incubus shoe, released about a year ago, shared its name with the medieval creature that figured in literature and art.

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Company executives found out about the meanings of the name from reporters at ABC’s Phoenix affiliate, Reebok spokesman Kate Burnham said.

“I’m horrified, and the company is horrified,” Burnham said. “How the name got on the shoe and went forward I do not know. We are a company that has built its business on women’s footwear, so to do anything that’s denigrating to women is not what we’re about.” Reebok said it did not know exactly how the name was selected.

Another spokesman, Dave Fogelson, said the company was looking into ways it could wipe out the offending name, which doesn’t appear on the $57.99 shoes, but on their boxes. There were no plans to recall the 53,000 shoes.

Fogelson said in-house marketers came up with the name in late 1995.

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The dictionary defines “incubus” as an evil spirit that in medieval times was thought to descend upon women and have sex with them while they slept. A second definition of the word is simply “nightmare.”

Stoughton, Mass.-based Reebok shares rose 75 cents to close at $52.375 on NYSE.


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