You can't say we didn't see this coming. I knew the people at Gatorade were really mad when they saw the bottles of POWERade Option. I wrote about it in this space in September. Their problem was that the bottles and the advertising claim to have "80 PERCENT FEWER CALORIES THAN GATORADE." The issue of course is that they are clearly not comparing apples to apples. POWERade Option is Coca-Cola's answer to Propel, so you have to compare Option to Propel, not Option to Gatorade. If you compare Option to Propel, they are pretty much identical. And if you compare Option to POWERade, Option has 85 percent fewer calories that POWERADE! But Coca-Cola wanted to try to sell this as a sports drink, not a fitness water. So the question now becomes, can they legally sell at as a lower calorie sports drink instead of a fitness water? The federal lawsuit was filed on Monday. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the lawsuit contends Gatorade is the most-studied sports drink in the world, and is the "gold standard," while Powerade Option is an "an artificially sweetened and flavored water product." The paper said the lawsuit cites a commercial that I have never seen. In it two guys wearing Amish garb are carrying bales of hay with horses. One guy has 10 bales of hay, the other has 50 bales of hay. The winner is the one that has the lower load, making a reference to the 10 calories of POWERade Option to 50 calories of Gatorade. The Sun-Times reporter notes that the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau had previously decided that Coke could compare Option to Gatorade only if it discloses that the product does not provide the same energy replacement benefits. I have a bottle right here in my hotel room and it doesn't making that qualifier. It's funny that after the "80 percent fewer calories line" on the front of the bottle, it has an asterisk. It refers the reader to the back of the bottle and says this: "leading sports drink": 50 calories, POWERade Option, 10 calories. Funny how they don't even say Gatorade. Coca-Cola spokesman Dan Schafer told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the Powerade Option ads are truthful and that Gatorade has no research to prove its allegations. "Our advertising tells the truth, and we stand by it," Schafer said. The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 in damages to Gatorade's business reputation and loss of sales and profits. I wonder how much this could really be hurting Gatorade's business. I would expect it to hurt Propel's business more. People who read this site know that I don't always side with Gatorade -- I am both a supporter and a critic -- but I think they have a good case here.
What do you guys? Weigh in, please.