Unbelievable: CBS bans Israeli company's Super Bowl ad because it competes with Coke and PepsiYou all remember SodaStream, the first Israeli company to have an ad appear in a Super Bowl telecast? What's so special about SodaStream, aside from the product and the fact that they were the first Israeli company to have an ad appear in the Super Bowl is the fact that they are located in Judea.
All of a sudden, it seems that it's become forbidden (at least in the West) to compete head-on with Coke and Pepsi. You will recall that SodaStream's ad was banned in Britain for 'defaming other companies' (which weren't mentioned in the ad. It now turns out that the ad that SodaStream originally made for the Super Bowl was refused by CBS because it specifically mentioned Coke and Pepsi (Hat Tip: Leah P).
Let's watch the ad that SodaStream wanted to run first, and then I'll have more.
Let's go to the videotape. I hope that you will share this video with all of your contacts and help it to get as many hits as it would have had viewers during the Super Bowl.
I thought that ad was quite clever and should have appealed to all the environmentally conscious people out there. I don't see how that ad defames Coke or Pepsi. Neither does Forbes' Will Burns.
CBS banned SodaStream’s Super Bowl spot because, apparently, it was too much of a direct hit to two of its biggest sponsors, Coke and Pepsi.
Please pause and read that sentence again.
I am shocked that CBS would ban a spot for being too competitive. But I’m even more shocked that the advertising world isn’t up in arms about it.
The media’s job isn’t to judge.
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?
CBS is protecting its relationship with Coke and Pepsi. Those two brands spend big bucks on the Super Bowl and on the network, in general. I get it. But all CBS would have to do, if Coke and Pepsi put the pressure on, is say, “Hey, we’re just the unbiased middle man here. It’s not up to us what competitors of yours say about you.” There’s no need for the medium to have a say in the message.
Competitive battles should be fought in the marketplace.
If the SodaStream product is a better “soda idea” than Coke and Pepsi, then shouldn’t it be given a fair shot within any medium it decides to risk its dollars? If it’s not a better idea, the market will decide its fate, not CBS. But even beyond that obvious argument, it’s in CBS’s, and all media’s, interest to encourage unbridled competition. The more threatened a Coke and Pepsi feel, in this case, the more likely they are to launch new campaigns specifically targeting the threat. And that’s more money pouring into the media, not less. But Coke and Pepsi won’t do that now (or are less likely to), because CBS intervened, took the pressure off, and effectively sided with Coke and Pepsi.So here's what SodaStream ran instead.
Let's go to the videotape.
To put into perspective how big a difference there is in the quality of those commercials (yes, I know, some of you might not be able to tell the difference), as of this writing, the commercial that was banned has over 3.7 million views on YouTube, while the one that ran has less than 95,000 (both were posted on January 30).
Sitting in Israel, I also have to wonder whether CBS - the network of 60 Minutes and Dan Rather - acted because this is an Israeli company and particularly because it's one located in Judea.
If I were SodaStream's lawyer I'd file complaints with the FTC (the people who enforce the antitrust laws) and the FCC (the people who regulate the commercial airwaves in the US). This is a very bad precedent regardless of why it was done.
UPDATE TUESDAY 4:48 PM
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