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Sports drink marketer to drop 'hydration champ' claim after NAD ruling

The National Advertising Division has ruled that an implied claim that BodyArmor Flash I.V. Sport Drink provides superior hydration performance is unsubstantiated.

Hank Schultz

February 2, 2024

3 Min Read

A recent National Advertising Division (NAD) ruling found a marketing claim that a sports drink is the “hydration champ” is over the top and should be toned down. The manufacturer said it disagrees with the ruling but will comply, following a challenge from a competitor. 

The ruling pertained to claims being made by BA Sports Nutrition LLC (BA). The company sells a product branded as BodyArmor Flash I.V. Sport Drink, and was using the slogan “The Rehydration Champ is Here” in its marketing. 

The drink is a fairly standard hydration sports drink formula. It features 530 mg (milligrams) of both sodium and potassium as well as 15 grams of cane sugar (as well as some B vitamins). 

Advent of the modern hydration formula 

This hydration approach was pioneered by doctors working with the Florida Gators college football team in the mid 1960s and came to be known as Gatorade. It trades on the idea of using sodium-linked glucose transport to speed the rate of hydration and electrolyte replenishment for athletes exercising in hot weather.   

In the idea’s first debut on the national stage, the 1967 Orange Bowl football game, the losing coach attributed the fact that his team faded in the second half vis-à-vis the Florida team to the Gators' use of the formulation that gave birth to the first Gatorade. 

Since then, the formulas of rehydration sports drinks have varied, but most generally include some form of sugar along with sodium and potassium. 

Little evidence on which formulas work best 

A significant amount of research has been done over the years on the role of electrolyte replenishment in sports performance. However, there is little evidence regarding which of the many similar formulas work the best in terms of rapidly raising electrolyte levels in the blood. 

“Although extensively researched for decades, it remains unclear what compositions of carbohydrate–electrolyte solutions for fluid replacement in exercise can be considered optimal in different settings,” according to a recent extensive review of the subject authored by scientists at Abbott Nutrition and collaborators and published in the journal Nutrients. 

NAD: Implied superior performance claim not supported 

The claims BA was making were deemed by NAD to imply that its formula was superior to others. That claim was challenged by competitor Stokely-Van Camp Inc. (SVC), which markets another product in the “rapid rehydration” category branded as Gatorlyte. SVC’s formula includes 490 mg of sodium and 350 mg of potassium.  

“Although Flash I.V. has more electrolytes than Gatorlyte, in the absence of any comparative product or performance testing in the record on the rehydration benefit of Flash I.V. as compared to Gatorlyte or other competing sports drinks, NAD determined that BA’s ‘The Rehydration Champ is Here’ claim was not supported,” the NAD ruled. 

In its advertiser statement, BA said it “disagrees with NAD’s conclusion but agrees to comply.” In any case, the company noted, the claim at issue was part of the market launch advertising campaign for BodyArmor Flash I.V. Sport Drink and had already been discontinued. 

 

 

 

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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