Claire Beale on Advertising: Fizz is forced out of Soda Stream ads


We're used to TV ads using colour and noise so you might have noticed a new ad for Soda Stream for precisely the opposite reason.

A black screen with a few simple words on it and a sparse soundtrack of bottles being opened, it all sounds rather calming amid the riot of Christmas ads. But the impression belies the outrage that led to the ad's creation in the first place. Soda Stream had a much fizzier, janglier commercial all lined up and ready to go last month but the ad was banned just hours before it was due to go on air. The trouble was that it showed lots of plastic bottles self-combusting every time a fizzy drink was made in a Soda Stream glass bottle. The environmental message was clear. In fact, the ad was co-created by the iconoclastic former US ad creative Alex Bogusky, who noisily quit adland a couple of years ago to turn gamekeeper as an activist against excessive consumption.

So what was wrong with Bogusky's Soda Stream commercial? According to Clearcast, the body that pre-vets ads before they are allowed to be broadcast, the original ad was a "denigration of the bottled drinks market".

Think about that for a moment. One ad is banned because it implicitly attacks the multi-billion pound bottled drinks industry, which of course spends billions globally on advertising, including a big hunk of cash with the UK commercial broadcasters who fund Clearcast. Perhaps Clearcast pulled the commercial without coming under any pressure from rival drinks makers or its broadcasters. It probably did. But the accusations of protectionism that have followed were utterly predictable and undermine the vital role Clearcast plays in ensuring the ads we do see are fair, honest and decent. Can you really denigrate a whole product sector anyway? As one online commentator said: what next, train ads banned for denigrating the car industry? Or airline ads banned for denigrating ferries?

Claire Beale is editor of Campaign