Monday, January 27, 2014

Bottoms Up

It's almost Superbowl time, where everyone waits in eager anticipation for the awesomest televised broadcast of the year: a bunch of mildly amusing commercials occasionally interrupted by football.

The week before the Superbowl, companies start ramping up the PR to get buzz going about their commercial spot. Previews are often given to reporters, much like movies or TV shows. Sometimes they hit, often times they flop, but there's usually a few memorable spots each year.

This year, SodaStream is getting ahead of the game with their commercial featuring Scarlett Johansson.* SodaStream, for those who are not aware, is a carbonated beverage machine (and subsequent formula) to make fountain soda pop at home. I've never had it, mostly because when I first researched it they didn't have diet varieties, but I've heard it's a decent product.

However, the "controversy" over this commercial is that it directly references the competition. Apparently that's a thing for the Superbowl--they don't want specific attacks on competitors, which I find a little odd. But the commercial was originally rejected, and then reinstated once they removed the references to rivals Coke and Pepsi.

Of course, the spokeperson for the company called it something far more nefarious:
"SodaStream is a real player in the carbonated beverage industry, competing with Coca-Cola and Pepsi," said [Yonah] Lloyd, in an e-mail. "We want consumers to know that there is a smarter alternative to these Big Soda companies, and we see Fox's directive to be nothing less than pure censorship."
That's baloney. Censorship is when the government tells you you can't say something; the example we have here is simply two private organizations negotiating a contract. It's not in Fox's interest to air commercials that attack rivals, or so they believe...and, really, what they believe is all that matters. This isn't in any way, shape, or form censorship.**

And, of course, SodaStream has come under pressure because they own a factory on the West Bank (which incidentally, makes a point of hiring both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs). Far be it for a company that makes convenient novelty drinks in your house not get sucked into the centuries-old conflict in the Middle East. So help me, I don't know where my opinions lay unless I know what Tab and 7Up's position on the Gaza Strip is.

But, I guess, they've got me writing a post about it, so in the end their little marketing gimmick worked. I just wish it was for reasons less needlessly hysterical.

*It's nice that CNN/Money wrote this article, but you'd think they'd provide a photo that is better than what looks like a screenshot of a still frame from a paused VHS tape.
**Yes, I know you can internally "censor" things and the term still applies, but it's clear that's not what the spokesperson is talking about.

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