NAD Recommends BA Sports Nutrition Halt Certain Claims for ‘BodyArmor,’ Finds Certain Claims Supported; Advertiser Voluntarily Discontinues Certain Claims

New York, NY – Dec. 7, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that BA Sports Nutrition, maker of BodyArmor sports drinks, discontinue certain advertising claims challenged by Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., the maker of competing Gatorade sports drinks.  NAD determined that certain claims made by the advertising were supported and certain claims were voluntarily discontinued by the advertiser.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

BA Sports Nutrition makes sports drinks without artificial flavors or sweeteners or colors from artificial sources and the company seeks to differentiate its products from other sports drinks by highlighting that formulation.  Stokely-Van Camp argued that claims made by the advertiser BodyArmor falsely denigrated Gatorade and conveyed the message that Gatorade is an “artificial” sports drink that contains “artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and artificial colors.”

In response to NAD’s inquiry, BA Sports Nutrition advised that it had voluntarily and permanently discontinued claims that BodyArmor is “natural,” that it contains “nothing artificial” and “no artificial colors,” that consumers should “switch” to BodyArmor because it is “natural,” that BodyArmor is the #1 Natural Sports Drink” and that consumers should “upgrade to a natural sports drink.”  It further advised NAD that it had removed links on its social media websites to claims that Gatorade is “garbageade” and images of athletes dumping out bottles of Gatorade.  In reliance on the advertiser’s representations, NAD did not review the those claims on their merits.  However, the discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

The remaining claims at issue are featured in advertising formatted as two comparative columns. The first column is headlined “Ditch Artificial Sports Drinks” followed by “artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors.”  The second column calls consumers to “Switch to BodyArmor Sports Drink” and is followed by “natural flavors, natural sweeteners, no colors from artificial sources.”   The ad shows two bottles – one clearly identified as BodyArmor SuperDrink and the other, only partially visible, similar to a Gatorade bottle including Gatorade’s distinctive orange cap.

NAD noted in its decision that some Gatorade products, including some of Gatorade’s G2 products, contain artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors. However, NAD noted, Gatorade’s leading product – Thirst Quencher – is not artificially sweetened and at least one variety – lemon lime – is not artificially flavored.

NAD noted that the challenge in this case turned on whether the advertising at issue reasonably conveyed the message that Thirst Quencher does contains artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors. Following its review, NAD determined that a reasonable consumer could take away the unsupported message that Thirst Quencher is formulated with artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors. As a result, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue its claims, “Ditch artificial Sports Drinks: artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors.”

NAD further concluded that BodyArmor’s claim, “Switch to BodyArmor Sports Drink: Natural Flavors, Natural Sweeteners, No Colors from Artificial Sources,” was supported but cautioned that BodyArmor’s advertising should communicate to consumers the comparative benefits of its product without misleading consumers or falsely denigrating competing products.

NAD also recommended that on its social media pages the advertiser discontinue reposting or linking to content that conveys the message that BodyArmor is “all natural” or that falsely denigrates Gatorade as “junk.”

The company took issue with certain of NAD’s findings, but agreed in its advertiser’s statement, to comply with NAD’s recommendations.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.