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.