The Advertising Standards Authority received 63 complaints about the TV spot and poster ad created by Grey London. The complainants included the Natural Hydration Council, the bottled water association.
A TV ad, "last man standing", showed two groups of men running on treadmills. The men who were drinking water all dropped out, but four of the men who were drinking Lucozade made it to the end.
The TV spot ends with the online text, "hydrates and fuels you better than water", next to a bottle of Lucozade.
The poster ad included a photograph of a professional rugby player. The copy on the ad said: "Hydrates and fuels you better than water ... see Chris take the performance challenge."
Products can only make nutrition and health claims that have been explicitly approved on a European Commission register. Both the TV and poster ad fell foul of the rules for rewording the authorised claim.
In the campaign, Lucozade combined the claim "carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions enhance the absorption of water during physical exercise", with "contributes to the maintenance of endurance performance during prolonged endurance exercise".
The ASA accepted "hydrates … better" was sufficiently similar to "enhances the absorption of water".
However, it ruled that the rewording of "contributes to the maintenance of ... performance" to simply "fuels" meant that consumers were less likely to understand correctly the meaning of that part of the claim.
The wording of claims can only be changed to aid consumers’ understanding and so the ads were found to be in breach of the code.
In the case of the poster ad, the ASA found Lucozade had not made it sufficiently clear that the health claims related to carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions in general rather than Lucozade in particular, and so it was also banned on that count.
The ads must not appear again in their current form.
The ASA warned Lucozade’s former owner GlaxoSmithKline to ensure it retains the meaning of any reworded authorised health and to avoid using brand names rather than the nutrient, substance, food, or food category for which a claim had been authorised.