Coca Cola Oceania has been forced to remove its Powerade ION4 television advertisements that feature Kiwi sports athletes Sophie Pascoe, Israel Dagg and Steven Adams after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled two of them to be misleading.
The three 15 second ads each show one of the athletes suffering a setback and working hard to retake their place in their respective sports after taking a drink of Powerade ION4.
In one of the ads, rugby player Israel Dagg is shown being tackled followed by a voiceover that says "What a hit! It's a long road back from here." After seeing an image of an x-ray, Dagg is then shown drinking from a bottle of Powerade. The voiceover says "Powerade ION4 replaces four electrolytes lost in sweat, to drive today's athletes forward." Dagg is shown training and then scoring a try. The voiceover says "What a comeback! What a champion!"
In the second ad, basketballer Steven Adams is shown falling over on court during a game and then being examined by a health professional, while lying on a bed. The voiceover says "Oh he's staying down, this is a big setback." Adams is then shown drinking from a bottle of Powerade. The voiceover says "Powerade ION4 replaces four electrolytes lost in sweat, to drive today's athletes forward." Adams can then be seen training and scoring a basket. The voiceover says "What a comeback! What a champion!"
In the last of the ads, swimmer Sophie Pascoe is shown at the end of a race and the voiceover says "Oh she's not happy. Where to from here? Powerade ION4 replaces four electrolytes lost in sweat, to drive today's athletes forward." Pascoe is then shown training at the gym and drinking from a bottle of Powerade which leads to her being shown winning the next race. A voiceover then says: "What a comeback! What a champion!"
The complainant was concerned the advertisements imply Powerade ION4 would be good for sports injuries.
"The voiceover doesn't talk about the injury, but the whole narrative is designed to imply that the sports drink helps in such a scenario. I have surveyed 12 children aged 10-13, and every single one of them thought the ad meant that Powerade would be good for their sporting injuries," the complainant told the ASA.
In response, advertiser Coca Cola Oceania said they were comfortable that the underlying messaging of the advertisements is that POWERADE ION4 can assist to replace electrolytes lost in sweat while undertaking a vigorous exercise regime, and that the advertisements do not contain anything inconsistent with the Advertising Standards Code.
The ASA ruled in favour of the complainant.
According to the ASA decision, a major of the complaints board agreed that two of the advertisements – the ones featuring Israel Dagg and Steven Adams – were misleading.
The board said the two advertisements show both athletes getting injured, drinking Powerade, and then training and going on to score. Such a sequence of events implies Powerade can help athletes recover from injury, which is misleading and in breach of the Advertising Standards Code.
The board said that the advertisement featuring Sophie Pascoe did not create the same impression and was therefore not in breach of the Advertising Standards Code.