In what might well be the most California thing ever, America's golden state has settled a lawsuit against sports drink maker Gatorade for sullying the good name of water.
Cali Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on Thursday his office struck a deal with Gatorade to change the content of a sponsored mobile phone game that told kids to "keep your performance level high by avoiding water."
The game, Bolt!, has long since been pulled from the iOS App Store. When it was available, the endless runner game pitted the user as sprinter Usain Bolt collecting coins and boosting his speed by running over Gatorade icons and avoiding water droplets that slowed the runner down.
The US state took exception to the portrayal of drinking water as harmful and filed a lawsuit, arguing the game sent the wrong message to kids, particularly in the face of its own efforts to get kids drinking more water and fewer soft drinks.
California accused Gatorade of violating state false advertising and unfair competition laws.
“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,” said Becerra.
“Today’s settlement should make clear that the California Department of Justice will pursue false advertisers and hold them accountable.”
To make the suit go away, Gatorade agreed to give the state $300,000 in two separate payouts. $120,000 of the settlement will be earmarked for funding research and education programs that get people to drink more water. The remaining $180,000 will be used to cover the state's legal costs.
Gatorade also agreed to stricter disclosure rules on its paid social media posts (such as celebrity endorsements) and agreed it would not advertise its sports drinks on any event where children under 12 comprise more than 35 per cent of the total audience. ®