SodaStream in a fizz with bottled water industry over Game of Thrones-inspired ad

SodaStream has hit back at the International Bottled Water Association, after the industry body sent a cease and desist order to the home carbonation brand over a provocative ad featuring actors Thor Bjornsson and Hannah Waddingham as their characters from Game of Thrones.

The spot, "Shame or glory" by Dutch-Israeli agency Allenby Concept House, is based around a parody of the famous sequence from the HBO series in which Cersei Lannister, queen of the Seven Kingdoms, is paraded naked through the streets of King’s Landing, with the nun-like character Septa Unella walking behind, repeating the word "shame".

The SodaStream ad features Waddingham, who plays Septa Unella, following a man as he leaves a supermarket carrying two heavy cases of sparkling water.

He eventually delivers them to Thor Bjornsson, who plays villain The Mountain in the show. Bjornsson berates the man for "hurting Mother Earth" by carrying "shameful polluting plastic bottles", before giving a demonstration of the alternative – SodaStream.

SodaStream said the video had been viewed more than 20 million times since its release.

According to a combative release from SodaStream, IBWA’s president and general counsel Joseph K Doss wrote to the company, telling it to cease airing the ad. SodaStream claimed that the letter "implies that bottled water is safer than tap water".

Information on IBWA’s website, however suggests it does not necessarily advocate this idea. "Drinking water – tap, filtered, or bottled – is important for healthy hydration and plays a vital role in people’s lives," it states. "Contrary to what you might hear, the bottled water industry supports a strong public water system which is important for providing citizens with clean and safe drinking water."

But the apparent face-off has nonetheless provided an opportunity for SodaStream to expel some gas, portraying itself as a scrappy underdog and environmental protector against the corporate might of the bottled water industry.

The company’s chief executive Daniel Birnbaum said: "We will not let the IBWA’s threats stop us from trying to save the planet. The IBWA, a front for major plastic manufactures like Nestlé – the world's largest producer of bottled water – is nothing more than an elite group of like-minded corporate sponsors who prioritize their own profits over the care of our planet.

"I don’t know what’s more offensive, the notion that a huge corporate organization thinks it can silence a small company or that the message they want gagged is that plastic bottles represent a real threat to the environment.

"This profiteering group, whose financial gains are a direct result of the two hundred million plastic water bottles their industry makes every day, wants to silence us from telling the truth.

"Even more disturbingly, the IBWA want to convince consumers that there is something wrong with the high-quality, delicious tap water that is available in most homes in America.

"The documented and real threat we face is from single-use plastic bottles. If anyone is trying to mislead consumers it is the IBWA, not SodaStream in its campaign. So, no. We will not be gagged and we will not be silenced."

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