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

Scarlett Johansson: SodaStream CEO apologises for ad in which the star said 'Sorry Coke and Pepsi'
Scarlett Johansson: SodaStream CEO apologises for ad in which the star said 'Sorry Coke and Pepsi'

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".

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

Birnbaum told the newspaper: "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. 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 flavour. 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 furore. Johansson caused a storm afterwards, when she quit as ambassador for charity Oxfam after being criticised for her endorsement of the brand. 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 to boycott the firm over its 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.

The firm is also facing a threat from rival Coca-Cola - which it so starkly referenced in its banned Super Bowl ad - with the soft drinks giant investing $1.25bn in its own home-based fizzy drinks system.

Birnbaum said he wanted to make water "exciting". He added: "Sodastream had an identity problem. It tried to replicate the flavour of Coca-Cola and Pepsi instead of putting an emphasis on its strong platform for carbonated water, which is something consumers still want and have an appetite for."

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