• PepsiCo Accuses Coca-Cola of False Advertising for Powerade
  • May 11, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • PepsiCo’s Stokely–Van Camp Inc. unit, the maker of Gatorade, has sued Coca–Cola over an ad campaign for Powerade ION4, charging its rival with engaging in "a calculated, intentional strategy designed to falsely and viciously attack the readily–identifiable market leader, Gatorade."

    The ad campaign, appearing on billboards, online, and in print, refers to the newly reformulated Powerade as the "complete sports drink." It also depicts half a Gatorade bottle accompanied by the line "Don’t settle for an incomplete sports drink." According to PepsiCo, Coca–Cola bases its claim that Powerade ION4 is superior because Powerade ION4 has four electrolyte ingredients—sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium—compared to the two electrolytes—sodium and potassium—in Gatorade.

    PepsiCo’s lawsuit, filed on April 13 in Manhattan federal court, alleges that the campaign overstates the benefits of Powerade ION4 and misleads consumers. The complaint states that no evidence exists "that the minute quantities of magnesium and calcium present in Powerade ION4 make it superior to Gatorade in any way." It also alleges that Powerade’s depictions of Gatorade bottles in its ads are "mutilated" and "distorted."

    Charging Coca–Cola with false advertising, trademark dilution, deceptive acts and practices, injury to business reputation, and unfair competition, the complaint asks the court for both temporary and permanent injunctions barring the Powerade ad campaign, corrective advertising and unspecified damages. PepsiCo also seeks an order forcing Coca–Cola to recall Powerade ION4 products which have allegedly deceptive labels.

    In a statement, a Coca–Cola spokesman said, "We stand behind our product and are prepared to defend the role that Powerade plays in hydrating consumers."