A Bubbling Controversy Over SodaStream's Super Bowl Spot
Super Bowl XLVIII commercial - SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson
For the second year in a row, SodaStream has had to alter its Super Bowl advertising at the eleventh hour.
This year's ad features actress Scarlett Johansson expounding about the advantages of SodaStream over other carbonated beverages (cough — Pepsi, Coke — cough). At the conclusion of the tongue-in-cheek ad, Johansson turns to the camera and says, "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi."
It's a relatively tame diss, but you won't hear it when the ad airs during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The commercial was rejected by Fox, the network airing the big game, and recut to feature a different line that doesn't directly reference the big two soda-makers, who are also big Super Bowl advertisers.
A spokesperson for Coca-Cola told USA Today the company did not pressure Fox about the commercial.
SodaStream Chief Marketing Officer Ilan Nacasch spoke to Yahoo TV about the controversy and whether being "banned" is actually good for business.
Nacasch said he didn't know the version in which Johansson cracks the line about SodaStream's competitors would be rejected.
Nacash said the line about Coke and Pepsi "adds to the humor, it makes the ad fun, lighthearted." He also said the line is part of a broader strategy to establish SodaStream as a "credible and delicious alternative" to canned and bottled soda.
The CMO said he was "very surprised" that that version had been "banned," saying that the spot is much less aggressive than ads from Coke and Pepsi that feature jabs at their competition. He said he received "no reason" from Fox why that version wouldn't be allowed to run.
When asked if this was a PR tactic to create a buzz on social media, Nacasch said that isn't the company's strategy. "Believe me, I would love this ad to be aired during the Super Bowl, as is."
In an interview with USA Today, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said he had no choice but to cut the line. "If I could get my money back, I'd be happy to be out of that deal," he told USA Today.
SodaStream will still air a version of the ad. At the conclusion of the new version, Johansson says, "I just love helping people," according to Nacasch. That's the line that was already going to air in countries other than the United States, "where competitive advertising is more limited."
Last year SodaStream planned to run an ad featuring truck drivers wearing Coca-Cola and Pepsi shirts. But the commercial didn't fly with CBS. Altering the spot would have been impossible, Nacasch explained. "We had to simply run another ad during the Super Bowl."
Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).