SodaStream takes controversial Super Bowl ad to UK

SodaStream is taking its controversial Super Bowl TV ad starring recently signed brand ambassador Scarlett Johansson to UK TV screens this Monday (3 February).

Video: The banned US SodaStream TV ad starring Scarlett Johansson

The ad has courted controversy on two counts before even airing in the US during this weekend’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

The full version of the TV spot which features the actress sipping a fizzy drink provocatively was banned by Super Bowl broadcaster Fox for taking a swipe at rivals, with Johansson uttering the line “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi”.

An edited version of the TV ad in question, omitting the “Coke and Pepsi” line, will now air during the Super Bowl on Sunday (2 February) in the US and in the UK on Monday night (3 February) during the final of Channel 4’s celebrity Winter Olympic-themed gameshow The Jump, which the brand also sponsors.

The uncensored version of the ad, which also features Johansson saying the line “If only I could make this message go viral”, has already amassed 6.5 million views on YouTube.

This week Johansson’s relationship with SodaStream forced her to quit her role as ambassador for humanitarian aid charity Oxfam. The charity objected to her partnership with SodaStream, an Israeli-owned company that operates in the occupied West Bank – settlements which are considered illegal under international law.

Yesterday (30 January) Oxfam issued a statement saying: “While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador. Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.”

Speaking to Marketing Week, SodaStream UK managing director Fiona Hope, said that the broadcast of the ad in the UK – which will only appear once – is not a PR stunt but that it “makes sense” given the brand’s sponsorship of The Jump and the “hype” around the Super Bowl.

She adds: “We want people in the UK to know that Scarlett is our brand ambassador and she is great for our health and wellbeing messaging. The ad forms part of our media package [with the Jump sponsorship] and it’s more of an add-on.

“The fully-edited ad has no name checks and has been cleared in the US and cleared here by ClearCast.”

SodaStream’s sponsorship of the Jump is already showing early signs of success, with the show pulling in an average of 2 million viewers per episode. Hope said metrics such as site visits and brand searches have been moving “significantly” in a positive direction.

SodaStream has history in producing controversial marketing. Last year it was forced to pull a TV ad which was accused by broadcast clearance body ClearCast of being “denigrating” to the bottled drinks market. 

The brand is readying a wider marketing push in the UK in May to communicate health and wellbeing messages and to support the launch of new product lines such as its Play machine. 

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