The ASA has this week upheld the 63 complaints it received about an ad for Lucozade Sport, featuring professional rugby player Gareth Bale. The ad featured two groups of men running on treadmills, the water drinking group gradually dropping out of the activity whilst the Lucozade Sport drinking group continuing to run. The tagline boasted that Lucozade Sport “hydrates and fuels you better than water”.

Ads for carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks must comply with health claims authorised under EU Regulation, and “hydrates and fuels you better than water” is not an authorised claim. The ASA noted that companies using “unauthorised” claims could be afforded some flexibility if the reworded claims were likely to have the same meaning for consumers as the authorised health claims, and the new phrases would aid consumer understanding. For example, reworded claims may aid understanding where there are linguistic or cultural variations.

The advertiser argued that the phrase “hydrates and fuels you better than water” was synonymous with and supported the authorised claims “carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions enhance the absorption of water during physical exercise”, and “contributes to the maintenance of endurance performance during prolonged endurance exercise”. However, the ASA said that narrowing the claim “contributed to the maintenance of performance” to read “fuels” was not more comprehensible for consumers, despite it conceivably being “common sense” that Lucozade Sport would “fuel” consumers better than water (as water does not contain calories). The ASA also noted that despite the voice over in the TV ad making reference to the exercise being extensive and camera shots of clocks showing that the exercise had taken place over a long period of time, the passage of time was less evident in the poster advert. Therefore the ASA did not consider that the average consumer would infer that the health benefits of Lucozade Sport would only be gleaned during prolonged endurance exercise.

We would advise advertisers to only deviate from authorised health claims where the reworded phrase is a clear alternative expression of the authorised claim. This is a tricky area and  it is essential that the language used is appropriate and in-keeping with the requirements. For further discussion, please contact us.