SodaStream boss says 'sorry' over banned Scarlett Johansson Super Bowl ad

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Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson

Tempest over Coke and Pepsi reference isn't the only public relations challenge facing Johansson and the Israeli company

SodaStream's chief executive has said sorry and admitted the company "made a mistake spending millions of dollars on a Super Bowl commercial" that saw brand ambassador Scarlett Johansson say "Sorry Coke and Pepsi."

Daniel Birnbaum now believes that the focus for SodaStream should be on water, not soft drinks. He made the admission in an interview with U.K. newspaper The Independent about the TV ad, which was due to be screened during the Super Bowl broadcast but was banned by the Fox network due to the Coke and Pepsi references.

"We made a mistake spending millions of dollars in a Super Bowl commercial to get Scarlett Johansson to say ‘Sorry, Pepsi and Coke,’ because people don’t want to drink Coca-Cola; they’re looking for ways to drink more water," Birnbaum told the newspaper. "That was our mistake and we’re sorry."

In the ad, Johansson tells the viewer, wryly: "Like most actors, my job is saving the world. Start with plain water. Add bubbles. Mix in the perfect flavor. Look — a soda that's better for you and all of us. Sorry Coke and Pepsi."

But Johansson's comments about SodaStream's rivals were not the only issue that caused a furor. Johansson also caused a storm when she quit as an ambassador for charity Oxfam after being criticized for her endorsement of SodaStream. She later said she had no regrets about the decision.

The Israeli company has seen its share price and market value plummet amid falling sales and calls for a boycott over SodaStream's factory in Palestinian territory.

However, this week the company said it was leaving its West Bank facility and relocating to a bigger facility in Israel, insisting that the decision was purely commercial. Birnbaum said that he was currently negotiating with Israel’s government to obtain work permits for its 500 Palestinian workers.

SodaStream is also facing a threat from Coca-Cola, which announced that it is investing $1.25 billion in its own home-based carbonated drinks system.

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