CBS Bans Commercial That Disparages Coke & Pepsi, But Lets Them Disparage Each Other

from the no-disruption-allowed dept

Oh, the benefits of incumbency.

Sodastream is a cool new company that allows consumers to make their own carbonated beverages at home.  Given its popularity, largely due to its ease of use, SodaStream’s stock has been on a run the last few months.  It also possesses the potential to disrupt to established beverage companies like Pepsi and Coke.

Not surprisingly, SodaStream would like to advertise this fact.  In fact, it is so keen on advertising the relative benefits of its product over the more traditional route of buying pre-made soda from the store that the company ponied up for a Super Bowl commercial.  Unfortunately for SodaStream, the ad was rejected by CBS, not because it was too risque, but because it “disparages” other major advertisers (which is apparently more objectionable than borderline softcore porn a la GoDaddy and Mercedes).  As Ad Age reported:

The content of its planned commercial seemed to have concerned CBS because it was a direct hit at two other Super Bowl sponsors and heavy network TV advertisers: Coke and Pepsi.

We’ve discussed elsewhere CBS’s newfound affinity for the ban hammer, but this isn’t even the first time this has happened to SodaStream.  British regulatory authorities yanked Sodastream’s first major advertising campaign for “being too disparaging towards soda manufacturers like Coke and Pepsi.”

How disparaging was SodaStream that its ads were pulled from television?  Well, it simply pointed out that SodaStream was more environmentally friendly than drinking off-the-shelf sodas because, with SodaStream, “you could save more than 2,000 bottles a year.”  Wow, that is incendiary.  Not safe for public consumption!

It gets better.  Clearcast, the NGO — funded by the British broadcasters — that pre-approves most advertisements for British television, reportedly offered this rationale for pulling the ad:

The majority decided that the ad could be seen to tell people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks, [and] instead help to save the environment by buying a SodaStream. [SodaStream] was also told that it constituted denigration of the bottled-drinks market.

Hypocritically, U.S. broadcasters have allowed Pepsi to air Super Bowl ads that bashed Coke directly, as Ad Age also pointed out:

Interestingly enough, Pepsi has scored big points with viewers over the years by showing Super Bowl ads with Coke deliverymen abandoning their employer wholesale for a sip of a Pepsi drink.

Moral of this story:  Pepsi and Coke can attack each other over trivial differences in their products, but don’t attack the business model of big incumbent advertisers.

Fortunately, there is an upside for SodaStream.  All the controversy that these ads have stirred has generated a buzz around them.  The SodaStream “banned Super Bowl ad” has already generated more than two million hits on YouTube in two days and generated a media buzz around the company itself.  And that’s without having to splash $3.8 million worth of cash for a Super Bowl commercial.  Another example of the Streisand Effect in action.

[SodaStream is running a commercial during the Super Bowl, but it was forced to replace Coke and Pepsi with fictional soda companies.  However, that ad only has a little more than 17,000 YouTube views in the last two days.]

Cross posted from Project-Disco.

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Filed Under: ads, commercials, competition, disruption, soda, super bowl, superbowl
Companies: cbs, coke, pepsi, sodastream

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  1. icon
    Atkray (profile), 1 Feb 2013 @ 2:42pm

    Re: may have to buy one.

    I received an unsolicited one for Christmas.

    I have used it sparingly (I'm counting calories) but I like that the cola is 53 calories for a 12oz serving vs 140 for Coke. It tastes pretty close to Coke and is made with sugar instead of HFCS for those who care.

    My daughter tried their Dr. Pepper substitute (I won't drink carbonated prune juice ;)) and she approved of it.

    Rumor has it that the energy drink is supposed to be almost exactly like Red Bull.

    Oh, and there is a whole sub-market of mods to convert the machine to use paintball Co2 tanks to further lower costs.

    My wife has used it to carbonate some other beverages with mixed results.

    My only complaint is the sticker on the Co2 cylinders claiming that you have only leased it from them and they actually own it so you cannot modify it. I suspect they do this to keep people from refilling them, and again there are lots of options online for doing exactly this.

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