Bodyarmor sports drink has agreed to re-evaluate several of its advertising claims related to PepsiCo’s market-leading Gatorade following a dispute that reached the Federal Trade Commission. According to a Sept. 13 letter by the FTC, Bodyarmor has agreed to modify or discontinue claims that the product is a 1) “More Natural Better Sports Drink,” 2) offers “More Natural Better Hydration,” and 3) is a “More natural, More electrolytes. Better sports drink.” Bodyarmor voluntarily agreed not to make such “absolute or comparative performance claims unless it is able to substantiate those claims,” according to the FTC letter. Bodyarmor told the FTC in an Aug. 13 letter that it had removed the disputed performance claims from its website and was developing a new ad campaign, the FTC also wrote. A spokesperson for Bodyarmor, which is part owned and distributed by Coca- Cola, declined to comment beyond the letter, as did a spokesperson for Coke. “We are pleased with the outcome of the filing and look forward to continuing our mission to fuel athletic performance,” Gatorade said.
Background. Gatorade has taken issue with Bodyarmor’s marketing since at least 2017. The complaints that led to the FTC’s Sept. 13 letter were first filed with the National Advertising Division (NAD), a self-regulation body for advertisers that is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The NAD recommended that Bodyarmor modify or discontinue the claims in question. When Bodyarmor declined, the NAD referred the dispute to the FTC. Bodyarmor subsequently re-engaged with the NAD and agreed to its recommendations, which satisfied the FTC. The Gatorade trademark has come under pressure from Bodyarmor in recent years. While Gatorade remains the US category leader with a 70 share of sports drinks in traditional retail, volume declined almost -6% during the first half of this year. Bodyarmor had reached a 5.0 share in the same period, after volume jumped more than +80%.
‘Outdated.’ A fourth challenge by Gatorade centered on Bodyarmor’s advertising claim that Gatorade is “outdated.” The NAD recommended Bodyarmor modify or drop that claim, as well. Bodyarmor twice declined. In its Sept. 13 letter, the FTC said it chose not to take action on any of the claims, citing Bodyarmor’s reengagement in the NAD process and the company’s stated work to address NAD’s recommendations.
Perspective. Bodyarmor has challenged Gatorade by promoting itself as a healthier, more ontrend sports drink. Bodyarmor emphasizes the drink’s natural flavors and sweeteners, coconut water for electrolytes, and vitamin content. The healthier-than- Gatorade strategy has been effective enough that some might assume Bodyarmor has less sugar than Gatorade. As shown in the table, an eight-ounce serving of Bodyarmor has 18g of sugar and 70 calories, compared to 14g and 53 calories for Gatorade. Bodyarmor’s lower-calorie Lyte variant has 3g of sugar, compared to 4.7g for Gatorade’s low-cal G2.
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