Pepsi sues Coca-Cola over sports drink ads

15 April 2009

PURCHASE, New York: PepsiCo, the soft drinks company, is suing its major rival Coca-Cola, claiming that ads for the latter's Powerade ION 4 sports drink made false claims regarding its own Gatorade brand.

Coca-Cola's national campaign for Powerade ION 4, which has run across print, outdoor, online and in-store, suggested that Gatorade was "missing" two key electrolytes – magnesium and calcium – which made its own brand "complete."

Executions featured taglines such as "Don't settle for an incomplete sports drink" alongside images of Gatorade bottles that had been cut in half.

The complaint issued by Stokely-Van Camp, part of Pepsi, argued Coca-Cola's campaign was "designed to falsely and viciously attack the readily identifiable market leader, Gatorade, in the hopes on unfairly gaining previous market share."

It further stated that it is "is critical that the court put an end to defendants' deception at once."

As well as accusing its rival of "false advertising" and "trademark dilution," the complaint also suggested that the ads amount to "injury to business reputation and unfair competition."

However, Coca-Cola responded by saying "we stand behind our product and are prepared to defend the role that Powerade plays in hydrating consumers."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/Reuters; additional content by WARC staff