Pepsi Co takes Coca Cola to court over ad

Pepsi is taking Coca Cola to court over an ad campaign that it claims is false and deceptive which began airing last week during the NCAA men's basketball tournament in the US.

The controversial spot for Powerade Option shows two Amish farmers drag racing their horse-drawn carts filled with hay bales (one with 10 bales and the other with 50). The farmer with less bales easily cruises to victory, and touts that Powerade Option has 10 calories compared to Gatorade's 50 calories.

"In other words, Coca-Cola is telling consumers that Powerade Option's fewer calories literally make you go faster. However, Coca-Cola cannot possibly substantiate this overall superiority claim," the suit says.

Powerade Option, which contains "negligible" calories, cannot refuel athletes in a similar manner" as Gatorade, the court filing claims. The suit seeks a permanent injunction to bar Coke from running the ads.

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caffeinegoddess I'm a creative director and copywriter with digital, integrated, and traditional expertise. I love sound strategy and great executions.

Comments (3)

  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Hay is not fuel for humans. The fuel is not in the horse's stomach, but carried along with the human as "baggage". Since excess calories become fat, and added weight reduces speed, the ad's argument seems reasonable, though I've only heard it described.

    The Powerade Option site

  • specifically advertises that the drink is a "way to replace lost fluids without replacing the calories".

    As a metaphor, it might be clearer to have no hay on the winning wagon, removing a comparison of an amount of fuel, since Powerade Option does not wish to be associated with fuel, but with a lack of any load. However, that snuffs out the 10 to 50 bale imagery.

    If the Pepsi suit is a publicity stunt, I'll put my money on the other pony coming out ahead.

Mar 23, 2006
  • caffeinegoddess's picture

    The suit has been settled as of yesterday.

    As part of the settlement, Coke agreed to stop airing one commercial and modify a second, PepsiCo said in a statement.

    Pepsi had accused Coke of false advertising in its new campaign because it suggests that Powerade Option, a low-calorie sports drink, offers more energy-enhancement benefits than Gatorade.

    Coke said in a statement that the modified ad campaign would make clear that Powerade Option has both fewer calories and less carbohydrate energy than Gatorade. Coke said the ad campaign, which has aired during the broadcast of the U.S. college basketball tournament this month, will continue to do so.

    Mar 23, 2006
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Now I'm dying to see both ads. Will they remove the bales altogether? Or will they make the Coke cart or its horse smaller?

    The intersection of law and advertising is so very cool.

    Maybe they'll only replace the Amish drivers with Quakers...!

    Mar 23, 2006

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