Coca-Cola Appeals National Advertising Division Recommendation to Discontinue or Modify Powerade “50% More Electrolytes” Claims
New York, NY – August 10, 2023 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that The Coca-Cola Company modify or discontinue claims for its Powerade sports drink stating:
- “50% more electrolytes* vs the leading sports drink”
- “50% more electrolytes vs. Gatorade Thirst Quencher”
The claims at issue, which appear on Powerade packaging, two video commercials, and on Powerade social media pages were challenged by Stokely-Van Camp, manufacturer of Gatorade. Until recently, both Powerade and Gatorade Thirst Quencher had the same electrolyte content. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola introduced a reformulated product with an increased electrolyte load.
Although Powerade contains 50% more potassium and sodium by weight than Gatorade, NAD concluded that Coca-Cola’s “50% more electrolytes” claims overstated the significance of the nutrient difference and that standing alone and in the context of its commercials and social media reasonably conveyed the implied message that Powerade provides better performance and hydration than Gatorade.
Further, NAD determined that Coca-Cola’s social media “Strong Arm” emoji post conveyed an additional message that Powerade helps make you stronger than Gatorade.
These messages were not supported by the evidence in the record, so NAD recommended that Coca-Cola discontinue its “50% more electrolytes” claims or modify them to avoid conveying the message that Powerade provides a material increase in electrolytes or better performance or hydration than Gatorade or that drinking Powerade will make you stronger than drinking Gatorade.
NAD also concluded that Coca-Cola’s “50% more electrolytes” claims did not convey a message that Powerade is healthier than Gatorade.
In its advertiser statement, Coca-Cola stated that it will appeal NAD’s decision in its entirety. Coca-Cola further stated, “while we respect the NAD process and appreciate its efforts to reach a suitable solution, we disagree with its reasoning and analysis, and believe consumers are entitled to accurate information about the ingredients in food and beverages they purchase.”
Appeals of NAD decisions are made to the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.
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