The advertisement above is part of Coca-Cola’s current marketing efforts to promote its Powerade sports beverage. Other advertisements depicts Coca-Cola’s Powerade as claiming that it is the “complete sports drink.” Powerade says that they have scientific evidence to show that its sports drink has been reformulated and contains 4 electrolytes compared to Gatorade’s 2 electrolytes.
PepsiCo’s Gatorade business unit filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola’s recent US advertisements over false claims in advertisements for Powerade Ion-4, which claim that it contains more electrolytes than Gatorade and refreshes consumers better. PepsiCo’s lawsuit claims “there is no evidence, scientific or otherwise, that Powerade Ion-4 functions better than Gatorade as a sports drink.”
Coca-Cola’s spokesperson Scott Williamson replies in a statement, “We stand behind our product and are prepared to defend the role that Powerade plays in hydrating consumers.”
“As the category leader, we have a responsibility to ensure consumers are accurately informed about the benefits of a sports drink,” PepsiCo said in a statement. “And the truth is scientists say there is no evidence that Powerade Ion-4 is a more complete sports drink than Gatorade.”
Filing a lawsuit to respond to Coca-Cola’s claim isn’t likely something that will deter the Coca-Cola from continuing its marketing efforts. After all, this lawsuit may bring more attention to this category and as summer looms, Powerade may stand to gain sales and market share through its advertising.
It will be interesting how this affects consumers, if at all. Gatorade has over 75% market share (compared to Powerade’s 22%) and most places that offer both products provide space for Gatorade at a 2:1 ratio compared to Powerade. In addition, consumers’ understanding of the beverage category is low but the relationship with the sports brand is high. Therefore, even though Coca-Cola claims that it offers a better beverage, it may still not succeed in switching consumers over from Gatorade because of Gatorade’s strong brand power.
Summer is approaching and the lines are drawn, let the sports beverage war battle begin…