In a settlement with California, The Gatorade Co. has agreed to stop suggesting that drinking water harms athletes. California v. Gatorade Co., No. BC676734 (Cal. Super. Ct., Los Angeles Cty., entered September 21, 2017). Gatorade launched a mobile game featuring Usain Bolt that featured the runner speeding up when he ran over the Gatorade logo and slowing down when he touched water droplets. The complaint alleged that players were instructed to “Keep Your Performance Level High By Avoiding Water” and claimed Gatorade violated state unfair competition and false advertising laws.
Under the settlement agreement, Gatorade will no longer make the “Bolt!” app available in any form that “creates the misleading impression” that water will hinder athletic performance or that water should be avoided. Gatorade also agreed not to make “statements that disparage water or the consumption of water” and will include a provision in contracts with endorsers that “clearly and conspicuously disclose” their relationships with the company. Gatorade will also pay $180,000 to the state to be used to defray the cost of enforcement of consumer-protection laws and $120,000 to provide grants to state agencies, schools or nonprofits for “study, research or education” in childhood nutrition or the consumption of non-branded water.