Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, September 22, 2017


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Gatorade Company Settles With State Over ‘Anti-Water’ Videogame, ‘Bolt!’


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Gatorade Company yesterday settled with the State of California over allegations that it misleadingly portrayed water—in a mobile videogame app called “Bolt!” depicting Olympic runner Usain Bolt—as hindering athletic performance.

The complaint was filed concurrently with a stipulated final judgment and permanent injunction, signed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marc Marmaro.

Under the injunction, Gatorade is barred from “[m]aking the Bolt! App, in its present form or in any iteration, or other app or electronic game, available for download that creates the misleading impression(s) that: (a) water will hinder and/or adversely affect athletic performance; (b) consuming water in general is to be avoided in favor of consuming Gatorade; (c) athletes consume Gatorade and avoid all water consumption; and (d) water consumption in general should be avoided.”

It is further prohibited from “[m]aking Statements that disparage water or the consumption, of water.”

Gatorade, a subsidiary of Pepsico, is required to pay $300,000, with $180,000 going to the Office of Attorney General to defray the costs of its investigation, and $120,000 to be distributed in the form of grants for the “study, research, or education in the following areas: (a) nutrition of children or teenagers, or (b) consumption of non-branded water.”

The complaint says of Bolt!:

“In the game, which Defendant developed and made available for free on iTunes, users controlled a cartoon version of the Olympic sprinter to run a lengthy race. Throughout the race, water was inaccurately and negatively depicted as hindering the sprinter’s performance. This marketing message was further made clear through the game’s tutorial, which instructed its largely teen and young adult audience to ‘Keep Your Performance Level High By Avoiding Water.’ ”

The complaint, signed by Deputy Attorney General Timothy D. Lundgren, notes that Bolt! was released in July 2012 and was available into 2013, and again released this year. It is no longer available.

“Defendant tracked the success of the game’s release, including the total number of downloads, games played, time spent on the game, and number of Gatorade logo interactions,” the complaint says, adding:

“The game resulted in more than 2.3 million downloads and 87 million games played worldwide. During this time period, the game was downloaded an estimated 30,000 times in California. More than 70% of users were 13-to-24 years old.”

Appearing at yesterday’s hearing before Marmaro were Lundgren and Deputy Attorney General Hunter H. A. Landerholm, representing the People, and Jerome C. Roth and Miriam Kim of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, acting for Gatorade.


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