The following ad might as well be a Jerry Springer joint — because Fox has decided it’s too hot for TV.
Well, sort of. Though the clip features Scarlett shimmying out of a bathrobe and seductively sipping to a “bow-chicka-wow-wooow” bassline, that’s not what reportedly raised the network’s hackles. (Compared to the antics on, say, a GoDaddy Super Bowl spot or Fox’s own Temptation Island, ScarJo’s sultriness seems downright tame.) Instead, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum tells USA Today that Fox declined to air this version of the commercial because of Johansson’s closing line: “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.”
On one level, Birnbaum is incensed: “What are they afraid of?” he rhetorically asks USA Today. “Which advertiser in America doesn’t mention a competitor? This is the kind of stuff that happens in China. I’m disappointed as an American.” On another, though, he’s got to be sort of pleased with the results of the ban: The “uncensored” version of the ad, posted online just yesterday, has already been viewed 1.3 million times on YouTube. And SodaStream still gets to air a commercial during the big game — just one that doesn’t include the offending Coke and Pepsi jab.
It’s a win-win situation for the company — although some people won’t be happy with Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream no matter what the ad says. SodaStream is an Israeli company that manufactures home carbonating devices and soda flavorings in an Israeli West Bank settlement. It’s got a host of opponents, including Oxfam, an international aid group with which Johansson’s been working since 2007 — one that also opposes “all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.” (The group said as much in an addendum tacked onto Johansson’s Oxfam ambassador info page last week.)
And while Johansson attempted to “clear the air” about her endorsement deal with a statement published on The Huffington Post last Friday — writing that “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights” — her critics remain unmoved. A typical argument: “Even if an Israeli company is green, or treats its workers better than other establishments, it does not make up for the fact that it is situated on land held by force, whose native population is ruled against their will and demand an end to the occupation,” blogger Mairav Zonszein writes at the web magazine +972. “Is that really such a difficult concept to understand?”
Um. Anyone else feel like they could really go for a Dr. Pepper?