It’s not just politics that the mainstream media has a duopoly problem with. CBS has decreed that the only fizzy sugar drink ads it will be airing during the Super Bowl are Coke or Pepsi:
CBS banned SodaStream’s Super Bowl spot because, apparently, it was too much of a direct hit to two of its biggest sponsors, Coke and Pepsi.
Please pause and read that sentence again.
I am shocked that CBS would ban a spot for being too competitive. But I’m even more shocked that the advertising world isn’t up in arms about it.
The media’s job isn’t to judge.
SodaStream has a product that could be wildly disruptive to the soda industry, if successful. As in, the “automobile” to the soda industry’s “buggy whip.” If SodaStream takes off, Coke and Pepsi would have a lot to worry about, for sure. But isn’t that what progress is all about?
CBS is protecting its relationship with Coke and Pepsi. Those two brands spend big bucks on the Super Bowl and on the network, in general. I get it. But all CBS would have to do, if Coke and Pepsi put the pressure on, is say, “Hey, we’re just the unbiased middle man here. It’s not up to us what competitors of yours say about you.” There’s no need for the medium to have a say in the message. [...]
No more ‘Davids’ allowed.
I also called veteran creative director, David Baldwin, of Baldwin&, to get his take with CBS’s move. He nailed it. “That’s a disturbing turn of events. No more Davids allowed I guess at CBS.”
And it’s so unnecessary. If CBS had simply played the “unbiased middleman” card in this case, there’s very little Coke and Pepsi could have done. They certainly would not have pulled their Super Bowl ads. Instead, Coke and Pepsi would have been forced to retrench and figure out a marketing way to solve this SodaStream problem and not a mafia way (I mean that metaphorically, of course).
Now, CBS has essentially opened the door for its biggest advertisers to forever complain about those “annoying little competitors” that are trying to steal share. “Take them off the air. Make them stop!” is what they will scream. “You did it for Coke and Pepsi.”
And it won’t only be CBS. All media will have to bear the burden of this biased, un-capitalistic, anti-progress, move. But, guess what? This isn’t the first time in recent months CBS has overplayed its hand.
Libertarians have long complained of their blackout in the media, yet we’ve seen a more and more blatant bias towards Democrats and Republicans in news coverage at outlets such as CBS. “We told you so” has become the standard refrain from libertarians when it comes to voting for the lesser of two evils presented as the only viable choices.
Thankfully, corporations like SodaStream won’t take the affront lying down, and I expect a major campaign is in the works similar to when UK broadcaster ClearCast also banned them:
Clearcast said in a statement that the ad “denigrated other soft drinks.” In response, SodaStream U.K.’s managing director Fiona Hope called the move “absurd” and said that Clearcast clearly gives priority to soft drink giants.
But it seems SodaStream will have the last laugh. Bloomberg reports that the company is enjoying considerable levels of success on the stock market this year. In the U.K., the video has been viewed more than a millon times online. Jim Chartier, an analyst from research firm Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., explains the obvious — that “SodaStream got a ton of free advertising and publicity because the ad was banned.”
Regardless of whether or not SodaStream portrayed big soda companies unfairly in this ad, it can’t be denied that it has baited big outfits in the past. This past summer, SodaStream erected a caged display of used soft drink and water bottles in South Africa — including Coca-Cola products — to illustrate the wastefulness of bottled drinks. Similar SodaStream exhibits have popped up across the globe in the last two years, with stops in Times Square and Union Square in New York City.
Coca-Cola responded with a cease and desist letter — after which SodaStream announced plans to build a used bottle display not far from Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
Score for the little(r) guy, I hope they are planning to stick it to CBS as well.
Update by Stephen VanDyke: This ban is actually a little stale (over a week old), but SodaStream has capitalized on this in the best way possible, splashing the ad (over 2.2M views as of this update) on the front page of their website.
And no, it’s not low quality stuff that makes Ronco look good.