The SodaStream Ad You Didn't See During The Super Bowl

When SodaStream hit Coke and Pepsi where it hurts, they got thrown out of the game. Which, as it turned out, wasn't all bad for SodaStream.

SodaStream's spot in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl was undeniably cunning in their successful attempt to make a meaningful and memorable statement during the big game. The ad focused in on SodaStream’s greatest advantage over the soda industry giants--that when you make your own soda with a SodaStream you don't waste plastic bottles. The soda industry sells approximately 500 million bottles a day, and probably a lot more on game day. That's 14 billion bottles a month in the landfill. What a great insight to build a compelling story around. Here's the ad that ran:


Creative consultant Alex Bogusky and agencies Pale Dot Voyage and Octopus of Mind were lucky to be working with SodaStream, a client that obviously had the confidence to let them find a David versus Goliath weakness and exploit it. If the measure of a great story is one that gets people talking, then this sure does qualify, but not just for the spot that eventually ran.

While Super Bowl ads have celebrated points of contention as long as I can remember, apparently CBS didn’t like the idea of stirring the pot among some of its biggest supporters--namely, Coke and Pepsi. The original ad submitted to CBS by SodaStream was blocked due to its direct stab at both of the soda giants and the replacement ad featured generic soda brands in their place. Here's the ad you didn't see:

One takeaway here seems to be the unfair advantage a major advertiser like Pepsi has, and the pressure it can put on a broadcaster like CBS to block a competitor from playing in a honest game of competitive rivalry. How ridiculous is it that Coke and Pepsi have been going at it for years, but when a small competitor hits them both where it hurts, Pepsi plays dirty and gets them thrown out of the game? You've got to believe it would have been different if the halftime show wasn’t title-sponsored by Pepsi.

I'd like to understand CBS' moral compass for screening what's appropriate and what's not for Super Bowl ads. Where was their sense of what's appropriate and what’s not when the choreography was presented for the Pepsi-sponsored, sexually-charged halftime show with Beyoncé? Where was the filter when the KIA and AXE ads were approved? If CBS is in the business of monitoring their ads to ensure fair play, competition and the best team winning, it seems appropriate to ask them to share their rules for what's appropriate and what's not for a family viewing audience.

For SodaStream, though, all the controversy created intense interest in the unaired ad--so much so that it's now anchoring the company's website, with the homepage prompting visitors to "Watch the Super Bowl Commercial They Wouldn't Let You See During The Big Game."

On YouTube, the "unaired" ad has 3.7 million views and counting. The official SodaStream Super Bowl commercial? Less than a hundred thousand.

--Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie's Homegrown, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.

Add New Comment

21 Comments

  • Mike Keller

    It may be "just business," but why would the Super Bowl or CBS be afraid of making Coke or Pepsi mad? Which major international corporation, with the money to buy a Super Bowl ad, is going to BOYCOTT the Super Bowl? That idea right there is absurd. Especially when so many of these companies have gone to great lengths to create an ad especially for the Super Bowl.

    It's sad that SodaStream had to fall back to the ad they were running before the Super Bowl, and shame on CBS for being jerks.

  • Gary

    SodaStream manufactures there sugar water machines within an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory. These settlements are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace.

    SodaStream is a two time loser and danger.  A company built on racist apartheid practices, selling sugar water. 

    If you are thirsty for justice, ignore SodaStream.

  • Emily Howell

    If you want to make sure people see something, hide/reject/ban it. It just stirs and piques curiosity even more. I think the best thing they ever did for SodaStream was NOT airing the commercial.

  • Federico Montemurro

    More sugar in your BloodStream.

    If you love bubbles, drink SodaStream. If you love your life, drink water or natural juice.

  • Itsmejakki

    It would have been the best commercial if it was allowed to air...soda stream is a great machine and takes as good as Pepsi or coke

  • patty

    It's time to boycott SodaStream and it's involvement in ilegal ISRAELI settlements on Palestinian soil. This company needs to pay the price for bad business.

  • saidas

    Make your own soda? How did they ever get enough investment money to buy a Superbowl add? I assume they are new as I've never heard of them. Sorry, but I just don't see a big market for this product...need, yes, market, no.

  • Stephen Bolling

    The company has been around for over a hundred years (ever purchased a soda in a restaurant that came in a glass, plastic or paper cup?) and according to their website their home systems are "sold in over 55,000 retail stores in 43 countries."  More importantly, they entered into a co-branding deal with Kraft Foods (Country Time, Kool Aid, Crystal Light) to use their products. Kraft Foods has been a major television advertiser for decades and knows a bit about marketing. 

  • ILuv Soda

     Actually, SodaStream is huge.  Internationally they are very popular and well respected.  But as the first comments note, in the US they must do battle with the big dogs of soda.  The last two years they have grabbed a sizable chunk of US business, and as they grow here so will their ad space.

  • Iglooozzz

    I got agitated when I read this article, it didn't seem fair. But both the preceding comments were educated responses to the article....this is business. Kudos for Sodastream to find an edge, but they will have a tough road taking on these giants. Don't forget all the labels Pepsico owns (i.e.Frito Lay, Gatorade, Tropicana)....these companies, as the poster said, are entrenched.

  • Stephen Bolling

    I'm surprised at your comment about "educated responses".  Soda Stream, a +100-year old major company (if you ever purchased a soda in a restaurant you probably used their product) is co-marketed by Kraft Foods, one of the largest advertisers in television history and has been since the start of television.  Their products more than outnumber those of Coke and Pepsi combined.  There were no tiny companies involved here.  

  • guest

     "If CBS is in the business of monitoring their ads to ensure fair play...."
    Stop right there.  That's a naive statement.  This is CBS Sports, not CBS news.  CBS is in the business of making money.   

    You have an impressive client roster, so I'll ask - which of your clients would allow themselves to be skewered in the middle of one of their most visible sponsorships?  

  • JSerrano

    "I'd like to understand CBS' moral compass for screening what's appropriate and what's not for Super Bowl ads." - I hope this wasn't a serious statement, as though this were a question of morality at all. It's a business decision fair and simple. Super Bowl sponsorship is not a privilege and the networks can impose any standard (and price) they want. Kudos to SodaStream for taking a big chance, but if they think they can take on big game like a couple of deeply entrenched soft drink companies without some backlash, they are kidding themselves.

  • Shawn Parr

    Absolutely aware of the technicalities, but my point was
    intended to prompt a conversation around the fact that it's been OK for Coke
    and Pepsi to have been going at it for years using the same venue, and why the
    same rules don't apply to a smaller competitor? Obviously CBS's decisions
    revolve around making money, but isn’t that a double standard? And it’s
    interesting to me to think about the fact that we’re all willing to accept
    censorship when it comes to making money, but not when it comes to morality.