“The mobile game, Bolt!, was designed to highlight the unique role and benefits of sports drinks in supporting athletic performance,” said The Gatorade Company’s spokesperson to Gizmodo.
“We recognise the role water plays in overall health and wellness, and offer our consumers great options ranging from Aquafina purified water to premium and enhanced options such as Propel and Lifewtr. Through these brands and continued innovation, PepsiCo will always strive to provide consumers with choices appropriate for any occasion.”
Becerra said Gatorade allegedly violated California’s consumer protection laws due to its misleading statements on the video game, Bolt!, which is played on iPhone. The beverage giant used the cartoon version of Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt.
The California attorney general said in a statement, Gatorade has portrayed its products positively however it has inaccurately and negatively depicted water hindering athletic performance. He said Gatorade allegedly reinforced the misleading message through the game’s tutorial, urging drinkers to “Keep Your Performance Level High By Avoiding Water.”
“Making misleading statements is a violation of California law. But making misleading statements aimed at our children is beyond unlawful, it’s morally wrong and a betrayal of trust. It’s what causes consumers to lose faith in the products they buy,” said Becerra. “Today’s settlement should make clear that the California Department of Justice will pursue false advertisers and hold them accountable.”
Once Gatorade has settled the lawsuit, Becerra said $120,000 will be used to fund research on water consumption and the nutrition of children and teenagers. According to CNN, the settlement will require Gatorade to disclose endorser relationships in any social media posts. It will also also prohibit the company from advertising its products in the media with children under 12 make up more than 35 per cent of the audience.
Studies have shown that advergames can have a significant impact a child’s desire for either healthy or unhealthy foods. Sports drinks often have a high sugar content wherein one 32 ounce bottle may contain 56 grams of sugar, more than double the 25 grams of added sugar that any child or teenager aged 2 to 18 should consume in an entire day, according to the American Heart Association.