Even when you dive in with a brilliant idea, it’s difficult to make progress when all the odds are against you. And in SodaStream’s case the odds are overwhelming: beverage titans Coca-Cola and Pepsi, along with all the major partners and media outlets who support them.
Image courtesy of SodaStream
In case you’ve been missing the buzz, Israeli-based SodaStream is a compact home carbonation system that allows the user to create his or her own soft drinks and seltzer water with the push of a button. The product’s origins date back as early as 1903 and saw increased popularity in the UK through the 1970s and 80s. But it wasn’t until more recently that the brand really made a splash in the beverage industry (ha, see what I did there?).
They’ve done so through several courageous and high-profile marketing ploys. In their original Super Bowl XLVII spot, SodaStream shot a commercial in which delivery men from Coke and Pepsi raced to the doors of an opening supermarket to the tune of Dueling Banjos.
The advertisement was bold, simultaneously putting their biggest competitors to shame and boasting the environmental boon of the product.
But as clever as the commercial was, CBS would have nothing to do with it. Pepsi happened to be sponsoring the big game’s halftime show, and officials at the network deemed SodaStream’s plug a conflict of interest, effectively banning them from airing it at the Super Bowl. Forsaking a fair marketplace, the network gave clear priority to the bigger brand and sparked a string of media outcry concerning the ad.
Fortunately for SodaStream, the controversy with CBS ended up working in their favor. Taking advantage of the attention, they stuck the banned ad on the front of their website and touted their rogue status for the world to see. It has now garnered over 4.5 million views on YouTube (along with the plethora of publicity from their less punchy replacement Super Bowl ad).
This wasn’t the first time SodaStream stuck it to the soft-beverage man. A large-scale, subtly aggressive marketing campaign was initiated earlier last year that saw the erection of huge pop bottle fodder installations.
Image from Forbes
The larger-than-life waste dungeons were a direct jab at the big competitors’ abysmal carbon footprints. These glib displays also set a trap for the ensuing legally provoked dialogue from Coca-Cola. Coke’s attorneys foolishly sent a cease and desist letter SodaStream’s way that argued copyright infringement and lack of “advertising goodwill”.
The letter was proudly publicized by SodaStream and (much like the Super Bowl faux pas) resulted in more good than harm for the brand. The Coca-Cola management made a big mistake with their legal threat, essentially labeling themselves as the big, bad bully in the situation and giving SodaStream the unexpected upper hand.
In short, SodaStream has officially become a force to be reckoned with. I personally applaud their ballsy marketing efforts, and emerging brands across the world can learn a lot from these guys. After all, in the wise words of Young Jeezy, scared money don’t make no money.