Message to Gatorade: Disparage water, and California will come after you.
Energy drink giant Gatorade has agreed to pay up, after the California attorney general filed a lawsuit accusing the company of spreading lies about H2o with its videogame application “Bolt!”
According to the attorney general’s office, “Gatorade portrayed its products positively while inaccurately and negatively depicting water as hindering athletic performance. Specifically, users controlled a cartoon version of Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt and ran an endless race to recover gold coins stolen by pirates. Upon touching a Gatorade icon, the Bolt avatar ran faster and the ‘fuel meter’ increased; upon touching a water droplet, he slowed down and the ‘fuel meter’ decreased.”
The attorney general’s office added, “Gatorade reinforced this misleading message through the game’s tutorial, which urged users to ‘Keep Your Performance Level High By Avoiding Water.'”
In a statement issued Thursday, California attorney general Xavier Becerra said that Gatorade’s anti-water message was “morally wrong and a betrayal of trust.”
“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,” Becerra said. “Today’s settlement should make clear that the California Department of Justice will pursue false advertisers and hold them accountable.”
Of the $300,000 that Gatorade agreed to pay, $120,000 will be used to fund research or education on water consumption and the nutrition of children and teenagers.
As part of the settlement, Gatorade must never, ever negatively depict water in any form of advertisement.