Coca-Cola North America and PepsiCo have settled the Powerade/Gatorade legal row.

The row centred on an ad for Powerade Option, which features a 'drag race' between two farmers in Amish dress, riding horse-drawn carts loaded with hay bales - one with 10 bales and one with 50. In the ad, the cart with fewer bales wins the race, while a voiceover says that Powerade Option has 10 calories compared to Gatorade's 50 calories. The implication was that Powerade made you go faster, Pepsi claimed.

The two drinks giants said yesterday (22 March) that they had reached an out-of-court settlement resolving the lawsuit filed on Monday in Chicago's US District Court. Under the settlement, Coke has agreed to immediately terminate the airing of one Powerade Option TV commercial and modify the language in a second ad to address the concerns expressed relating to the carbohydrate calorie content and relative energy benefits of Gatorade and Powerade Option. Coke's Powerade Option advertising will continue to run during the NCAA tournament.

"As the number two player, we want to set ourselves apart from the category, but we want to compete in the marketplace, not in the courtroom," said Gloria Garrett, vice president, Hydration for Coca-Cola North America.

"Powerade Option was created and is marketed based on what we've heard from consumers - that there are many occasions when a full calorie sports drink adds back more calories than people have just burned off. Our advertising will maintain the central theme of the campaign, which is that Powerade Option has fewer calories than Gatorade," said Garrett. "We have agreed to modify the commercials to be clearer that Powerade Option has both fewer calories and less carbohydrate energy than Gatorade."

"Our primary concern is to ensure that consumers are accurately informed about the benefits of a functional sports drink, and we are satisfied with Powerade Option's decision," added Cindy Alston, vice president, equity development and communications for Gatorade.