Sweet Feet: Toeing the line for cash, lotionBy KATHLEEN MARTENS, BUSINESS REPORTER
Fri, September 3, 2004
They primped, they pampered, they paraded. Two hundred women pranced into the limelight yesterday for a shot at becoming the foot model for Swiss Medica's new pain lotion.
Sandal-clad contenders started lining up under the canopy at The Forks at 11 a.m. Many took off their shoes to eliminate strap marks before stepping before the judges.
"I've had past boyfriends tell me they liked my feet, and my husband loves my feet," confided Martha Nauta, a student services advisor at the University of Manitoba.
Nauta and others were counting on pre-event pedicures and piles of lotion to take them over the top.
TERRIFIC TOES AND NAILS
The stand-out when the contest closed at 2 p.m. was No. 200, Lexie Stein. She collected a $500 grand prize and will now put her tootsies up against the best footsies in each Canadian city before advancing to the North American finals.
Swiss Medica CEO Raghu Kilambi, who acted as one of the judges, said Stein's feet had nice proportion, good hygiene and terrific toes and nails.
"I think the toes and the nails separated her from the rest," he said.
The losers walked away with a $10.99 foot grooming package.
So was the event a sincere contest or a shrewd marketing ploy?
The muscle and joint gel is aimed at easing the effects of arthritis, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome. It only became a foot cream after a Los Angeles anchorwoman announced it eased her shoe-worn feet, said company president and chief operating officer Grant Johnson.
"If we had a fibromyalgia contest who would come?" he said, gesturing at the crowded plaza.
Company representatives, wearing open-toed shoes and sporting toe rings, handed out free samples of the product and a sheet of foot facts.
Johnson said 35% of women suffer foot pain from the shoes they wear.
Judges were looking for attractively curved toes and finely formed arches. The company invited women 18 through 80 to participate.
"A corn would get you points deducted," said company spokeswoman Sky Wallin.