With the Super Bowl set to kick off in just under four hours, millions will be tuning in to see which is the best team in the NFL this season. In addition, millions will also be keeping a close eye on an old favorite pastime - Super Bowl commercials. While the aura surrounding Super Bowl commercials has been somewhat diminished relative to the pre-Internet age, there's no doubt that the Super Bowl remains a huge platform for companies to brand their products and get their message across.
One company, however, won't be allowed to take advantage of the Super Bowl platform in the way it intended. Earlier this week, Forbes reported that CBS has banned SodaStream from running an ad during the Super Bown because two of its biggest sponsors - Coke and Pepsi - raised a fit about it. Why? Because the ad makes fun of their respective companies. And when you see the actual ad, it's clear that both companies are overreacting.
SodaStream has a product that could be wildly disruptive to the soda industry, if successful. As in, the “automobile” to the soda industry’s “buggy whip.” If SodaStream takes off, Coke and Pepsi would have a lot to worry about, for sure. But isn't that what progress is all about?
And isn't that what the free market is all about? Sure, CBS stands to make millions upon millions from both Coke and Pepsi, but what will the two soft drink giants realistically do if CBS runs the SodaStream ad? Absolutely nothing. In other words, CBS has no viable reason to keep SodaStream off the air under the pretense of protecting their relationship with both Coke and Pepsi.
In case you're unfamiliar, SodaStream is a purveyor of a home carbonation machine that enables users to create their own sodas in a variety of flavors thanks to a wide array of syrups. Users simply add water - which is subsequently carbonated - and a flavored syrup of their choosing, and voila! The result is a drink that tastes close enough to popular drinks like Dr. Pepper, Sprite, RootBeer, and Coke. It's also much healthier than your typical, off-the-shelf soft drink. I've actually tried it myself, and as a Coke fanatic, it's not exactly a seamless replacement, but it's darn close.
The article goes on to quote David Baldwin of Baldwin& who astutely quipped, "That's a disturbing turn of events. No more Davids allowed I guess at CBS."
Disturbing, indeed. After all, one of the greatest commercials of all time - Apple's 1984 Mac commercial - was essentially a David taking on a Goliath.
The best commercials are those that make a statement, take a stand, deliver a message, stir things up. For all we know, SodaStream is the product that will turn Coke and Pepsi on their heads. Maybe not. But at least give them some airtime if they're willing to pony up the money.
But, as things tend to go, the outrage resulting from the banning of SodaStream's ad has turned the ad into a viral hit.
Below is the full un-edited clip of the banned commercial.
And in the latest update to this ridiculous saga, SodaStream unveiled a more benign ad, if you will, that will be allowed to run during the game. It's more tame and definitely less engaging, but that's what CBS presumably was looking for.