Gatorade Sues Powerade Over Ad Claims

Gatorade filed a lawsuit against Powerade today (April 13). The suit claims that the Coca-Cola-owned Powerade has deceived consumers with several false claims about its ION4 sports drink. In the ads, Powerade is called an “upgrade” over PepsiCo’s Gatorade. Gatorade said its claims are untrue and unsupported by science.

Powerade debuted its “The complete sports drink” ad campaign last month. Coke has been positioning the No. 2 sports drink as superior because it has two added electrolytes, calcium and magnesium. It’s ad copy includes  the messaging: “Don’t settle for an incomplete sports drink.” Ammirati, New York, handles.

“As the category leader, we have a responsibility to ensure consumers are accurately informed about the benefits of a sports drink,” said Gatorade in a statement. “And the truth is scientists say there is no evidence that Powerade ION4 is a more complete sports drink than Gatorade. This claim is complete in only one way, it is completely false. Gatorade is the most thoroughly researched beverage in the world, and the only sports drink with more than 40 years of science to back up its claims that it works, hydrating athletes, replenishing electrolytes and providing fuel for working muscles.”
Gatorade’s statement said Powerade’s levels of calcium and magnesium are less than 1/2% of their daily recommended allowances. “More calcium and magnesium are found in most tap water,” said the statement.

Coca-Cola rep Scott Williamson said, “We stand behind our product and are prepared to defend the role that Powerade plays in hydrating consumers.”

At nearly 80 percent dollar share for the 52 weeks ending April 5, per IRI, Gatorade is far and away the sports drink category leader. Gatorade spent $112 million on media last year compared to Powerade’s $14 million, per Nielsen.