"Sorry, Coke and Pepsi" Version

"People" version will air

Behind the Scenes, Making of the spot

SodaStream's "Sexy," "Banned" Super Bowl Ad Featuring Scarlett Johansson

Fox, apparently, takes issue with the at-home soda-making system’s takedown of its competition. SodaStream presses on and ups the sex appeal with new global brand ambassador.

SodaStream, the at-home soda-making system, offers a sustainable and more healthful alternative to supermarket soda brands. SodaStream’s drinks contain less sugar and generate less bottle waste with its reusable glass canister. But just because it’s nicer for you and the environment doesn’t mean the company has to play nice when taking on the competition.

As with its 2013 Super Bowl ad, SodaStream put its competition—Coke and Pepsi—directly in its crosshairs. Though this time the company’s dis to its giant rivals is delivered with supreme sultriness by its new brand ambassador and longtime fan of the product, Scarlett Johansson. The ad, created by Humanaut with creative consultation by Alex Bogusky, starts with the actress revealing that, like most actors, her real job is saving the world. After demonstrating how the system works, she then sheds her white bathrobe to reveal a flattering dress and proceeds to make eye-love with the camera and extensively fondles a straw before delivering her takedown: "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi." Fitting for the Super Bowl, but not acceptable for Fox, reportedly. As with last year’s ad, Sodastream’s spot didn’t pass muster with the broadcaster (which hasn't commented publicly on the matter) and has been banned from the game for its direct attack.

The reaction of SodaStream’s CEO Daniel Birnbaum was kind of amazing. "This is the kind of stuff that happens in China. I’m disappointed as an American," he said to USA Today. But as Yaron Kopel, the company’s chief innovation and design officer tells us, he’s got a point: "We view Coke and Pepsi as our competitors and they have long mentioned one another in their ads. That’s all this is: just mentioning. You can see how subtle and humorous it is. We hoped this year that Fox would approve the ad. We still hope they change their mind."

Instead, the spot will run on game day with an alternate ending. As ScarJo coyly throws out her come-hither eyes, instead of naming names she simply says, "I just love saving the world." (As an aside, Johansson has recently come under fire from Oxfam, one organization she’s involved with to actually help save the world, for aligning herself with SodaStream, which is an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank. UPDATE: She has parted ways with Oxfam over the conflict).

And like so many business ideas today, the inspiration for this ad’s combo of soda and sexy, while par for the course for the Super Bowl, can be linked to Fast Company. In 2013, SodaStream was named to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list. "We were on the list for ‘For making DIY carbonation sexy’ and attributed this to our new line of products and user experience," says Kopel. "Now we also have a ‘sexy drink shot’ with a beautiful, amazing ambassador."

Kopel says it’s all part of the company’s strategy to show that "making soda at home is an easy, tasty, and 'sexy' experience, and is a ‘better for you’ way to drink soda."

[Photos by Peter Yang | Courtesy of SodaStream]

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  • Whitewashing the bloody occupation of Palestine -- with its land and water theft, indefinite detention and torture of minors, and bulldozing of homes and ancient olive trees -- is shameful. Johansson learned this when she was asked to sever her relationship with Oxfam. Learning is a slow process that proceeds by fits and starts. What I'm hoping is that with time to reflect she decides that being the pretty face of an ugly occupation is not a career milestone in any good way.

  • Karl KidFresh Nilsson

    boy thats a pretty long article for possibly the least consequential pop culture blip of all time

  • Yhang Rhea

    wrong move for banning it though. not everyone watches superbowl, but everyone can access YT. banning it just made the brand more controversial.

  • If they ban the mere mention of Coke and Pepsi, I'd think that GoDaddy's gross sexism would fail the test as well. How does this even compare? Ew.

  • Actually, we did mention that in the story. However, since this is about the ad and not the company's dealings and how/where they operate, it was mentioned parenthetically.

  • Rae Ann, I missed the mention of the West Bank when I first read your article. I apologize for posting a comment without having given it a closer read. Though it's been a publicity nightmare for Scarlett Johansson, the controversy has thrust an important debate into the spotlight. The public is learning that there is no such thing as guilt-free consumption; neither are there absolutes when it comes to defining social responsibility. As social businesses start to compete in mainstream markets, the need for accountability and transparency is critical.

  • The real story IS the conflict in the West Bank. I have no idea why you've chosen to report on such an unimportant part of this whole episode.

    SodaStream operates an illegal factory in an occupied land. By international law, this is an outright war crime. And for someone in the spotlight to choose money over human rights is not necessarily shocking, but should be the focus of this story.

    What a shame.

  • Sodastream is one of the few good things happening for the Palestinians, who work side by side Israelis at this factory, and earn a fair wage while developing technical skills. The wrongheadedness of those objecting to it is simply staggering. We should be encouraging such ventures, which can only contribute to peace and collaboration between Jews and arabs, as it provides a shared objective of prosperity

  • I don't think its inappropriate at all. There's more inappropriate things that air DAILY on television. They should air it. I somehow feel like Coke and Pepsi are behind the banning...