When one thinks of Coca-Cola or Pepsi, images of polar bears and red-faced Santa Clauses with glass bottles of carbonated beverages come to mind. These two companies are infamous for their delicious and consistent products dating back to the 1800s. Yet, during this year’s Super Bowl, Fox pulled an advertisement for SodaStream featuring actress Scarlett Johansson because it mentioned two major Super Bowl sponsors, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Fox assumed that Coke and Pepsi would have problems with the SodaStream advertisement because of the ad’s depiction of SodaStream as a healthier alternative to most sodas. Johansson even ends the advertisement with, “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.” This isn’t the first time SodaStream’s advertisement was excluded from Super Bowl coverage. Last year, their advertisement used Coke and Pepsi trucks to depict how many bottles are wasted at the hands of their competitors, causing it to be pulled yet again.
Fox shouldn’t be in the business of screening natural competition between rival companies. To think that Coke and Pepsi, two of the United States’ most popular beverages, would suddenly become unpopular due to one competitor’s jab is completely unrealistic. Both trademarks have a history that SodaStream has yet to even possibly come close to — let alone surpass.
If anything, banning the commercial only enticed viewers to watch it online. SodaStream promoted the uncensored version online, garnering more than 10 million views. Even the hashtag #sorrycokeandpepsi circulated on the web.
Furthermore, Fox’s rationale for omitting the full version of the advertisement is misplaced. Rather than worry about competition, it would make more sense for Fox to be concerned with advertising a company involved in human rights violations. The Israeli-owned SodaStream recently came under fire by humanitarian organization Oxfam International and others for its controversial operation of its facility within the West Bank of the Palestinian territories.
“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. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law,” the company said in a statement regarding SodaStream’s involvement in the foreign controversy.
It makes no sense that Fox would choose to occupy itself with petty issues such as offending sponsors with a one-line zinger when there are more serious political issues surrounding these advertisements.
Regardless, censoring an advertisement for calling out its rivals isn’t just silly, but completely antithetical to the purpose of the advertisement in the first place. Companies such as Pepsi and SodaStream don’t spend millions of dollars on an overpriced 30-second time slot to be friendly to their competitors. The point of advertisements is to highlight your product and resonate with the consumer. For what other reason would we see familiar faces such as Scarlett Johansson’s if not to convince society that we cannot live without these products? SodaStream prides itself on being a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative to its sugary, calorie-loaded counterparts. To discourage SodaStream from marketing its brand as such is ridiculous, and it’s not Fox’s place to tell them to market their product otherwise.
Chelsea Hernandez is a junior majoring in creative writing.