Gatorade Sues Powerade for False Advertising

Says Coke Brand's Campaign Misleads Consumers Into Thinking Pepsi Beverage Is 'Incomplete'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- PepsiCo's Gatorade brand today filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola's Powerade, alleging false advertising, trademark dilution, deceptive acts and practices, injury to business reputation, and unfair competition. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, takes Powerade to task for its new advertising campaign, first reported by Advertising Age.

PepsiCo claims Coca-Cola's campaign for Powerade Ion4 is 'a calculated, intentional strategy designed to falsely and viciously attack the readily-identifiable market leader, Gatorade.'
PepsiCo claims Coca-Cola's campaign for Powerade Ion4 is 'a calculated, intentional strategy designed to falsely and viciously attack the readily-identifiable market leader, Gatorade.'
In its suit, Gatorade asserts that the campaign misleads consumers and overstates the product benefits of its Powerade Ion4. The campaign positions Powerade's newly reformulated drink as the "complete sports drink." Billboards, digital efforts and an ESPN cover, which was criticized by ASME, picture half of a Gatorade bottle with the text "Don't settle for an incomplete sports drink."

Powerade is seeking to set itself apart by touting its drink as containing four electrolytes -- sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium -- while Gatorade's formula contains just two electrolytes, sodium and potassium. Gatorade's suit takes issue with Powerade's positioning, noting the "miniscule" amounts of calcium and magnesium that are part of the new formulation. "There is no evidence that the minute quantities of magnesium and calcium present in Powerade Ion4 make it superior to Gatorade in any way," the complaint states.

'No evidence' of Powerade's claims
"As the category leader, we have a responsibility to ensure consumers are accurately informed about the benefits of a sports drink. And the truth is, scientists say there is no evidence that Powerade Ion4 is a more complete sports drink than Gatorade," PepsiCo said in a statement. "This claim is complete in only one way -- it is completely false."

Beyond that, Gatorade takes issue with the creative, from New York-based Ammirati, calling its depictions of Gatorade bottles "mutilated" and "distorted." Gatorade is seeking to preliminarily and permanently enjoin Powerade from running the campaign. It also seeks corrective advertising and damages. "[Powerade's] entire advertising campaign for Powerade Ion4 is a calculated, intentional strategy designed to falsely and viciously attack the readily identifiable market leader, Gatorade, in the hopes of unfairly gaining precious market share," the lawsuit states.

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

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