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Pepsi sues Coke over Powerade advertisement

CHICAGO (AP) _ Pepsi is taking on Coke in federal court, but this time it's a power struggle rather than a cola war.

PepsiCo Inc.'s Gatorade beverage business filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against Coca-Cola Co.'s Powerade unit to stop an ad campaign that it claims is false and deceptive.

A new television ad for Coke's Powerade Option sports drink features a ``drag race'' between two farmers in Amish dress, riding horse-drawn carts loaded with hay bales _ one with ten bales and one with 50. The ad shows the cart with fewer bales easily cruising to victory, and touts that Powerade Option has 10 calories per 8-ounce serving compared to Gatorade's 50 calories.

``In other words, Coca-Cola is telling consumers that Powerade Option's fewer calories literally make you go faster. However, Coca-Cola cannot possibly substantiate this overall superiority claim,'' the suit says.

Powerade Option, which contains ``negligible calories, cannot refuel athletes in a similar manner'' as Gatorade, the court filing claims.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction to bar Coke from running the ads, which were launched last week during the start of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Coca-Cola spokesman Dan Schafer said Tuesday that the Powerade Option ads are truthful and that Gatorade has no research to prove its allegations.

``Our advertising tells the truth, and we stand by it,'' Schafer said.

Gatorade's lawsuit says that the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau last year decided that Coca-Cola could compare Powerade Option to Gatorade only if it discloses that ``consumers will not receive the energy replacement benefits provided by Gatorade.''

Coca-Cola ``apparently changed its mind when it decided to launch its new television campaign,'' the suit says.

Schafer said the ads fulfill Coke's agreement with the NAD.
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