"Sorry, Coke and Pepsi," Scarlett Johansson says at the end of the spot, and taking a jab at Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) was apparently too much for Fox. The broadcaster relies on Coke and Pepsi as major advertisers -- above and beyond the costly Super Bowl slots -- and that carries a lot of weight.
The fix is easy. SodaStream can just remove those four words. After all, having Johansson on board is too big an asset to squander on a banned commercial. Then again, knowing SodaStream, it couldn't have scripted things any better. SodaStream will be able to milk the publicity of another banned ad. The uncensored version will blow up on YouTube, just as last year's nixed spot did. Over the next few days it can argue that Fox doesn't care about the environment, favoring the promotion of Coke cans and Pepsi bottles. Other ads have called out the competition by name in the past, and SodaStream can rule by being the exception.
CBS nixed last year's SodaStream ad that featured Coke and Pepsi drivers racing to a store's entrance. This spot doesn't sound nearly as confrontational or controversial, but it seems as if even Johansson's star power isn't going to be enough to let SodaStream openly call out the competition.
In the end, though, SodaStream wins. Super Bowl ads aren't cheap, and the controversy will only draw more attention to the commercial as well as to the product's benefits. It almost seems as if SodaStream's pushing of the envelope is deliberate enough to get banned, yet reversible to the point where it can be remedied after the company makes its point.
In any event, SodaStream traded within pocket change of a new 52-week low on Friday, so it can use the free publicity.