Analysis: SodaStream's Banned Commercial Helps Build Brand Recognition


SodaStream's Super Bowl commercial is the topic of this second installment in Jason Chong's 4-part post-Super Bowl analysis series. Covering the beverage industry for BevWire and Canadian Grocer, he offers insight into the controversy around SodaStream's first commercial during the Big Game.

Have you heard of SodaStream?

Have you heard of SodaStream?

We first discussed Pepsi's involvement with Beyonce and the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Today we dig into SodaStream's first advertising during the Super Bowl. Their first attempt can be viewed below, but it was never broadcast during the game.

Prior to the Super Bowl, CBS rejected this ad because it showed the Coca-Cola and Pepsi brands, as well as their bottles exploding. These beverage giants are annual participants that spend millions of dollars on the network, so it's understandable that they did not want to upset them by having another advertiser humiliate the companies or their products.

Pepsi & Coke featured in Banned Ad

Pepsi & Coke featured in Banned Ad
(Source: YouTube)

For a relatively new player to the beverage market like SodaStream, this banned commercial marks a strong success – specifically because it was banned. The new player must make some noise in the market to gain attention, and what better way to accomplish this feat than getting their commercial banned? Traditional big-name companies want their ads to be seen during the Super Bowl since it has the largest viewing audience and helps them rename top of mind.

CBS didn't appreciate their big beverage sponsors being mocked

CBS didn't appreciate their big beverage sponsors being mocked
(Source: YouTube)

But for SodaStream and other emerging companies, this not necessarily be cost effective despite the desire to showcase their product or service. These TV spots represent a significant investment ($4 million) and they may not want to get involved in a bidding war for only 30 seconds of publicity. They still want their ad to be seen, but their return on investment is much more critical to their bottom line. By having their original ad banned and then creating a tamer version approved by CBS, SodaStream is maximizing their pre-game publicity.

The approved ad that eventually aired during the Super Bowl can be viewed below:

Like the banned version, the message still rings true. You could have saved 500 million bottles if you had used their home carbonation product.

Since the day SodaStream publicized the prohibition of their original creative, they published the banned version online. The commercial had already had amassed over 2 million views after five days. It's no Gangnam Style or cute kitten video, but people are generally curious to see why certain things are kept from them. Words like "banned" make it more intriguing to find out what was so alarming in the first place for it to be banned. Consumers would go online to seek out the banned commercial after learning that CBS has prohibited them from seeing it. SodaStream even advertises it now on their website, with the tagline of "Watch the SodaStream commercial they wouldn't let you see during the big game".

As seen in the approved Super Bowl ad

As seen in the approved Super Bowl ad
(Source: YouTube)

Despite all this heightened interest over the prohibited commercial, does this translate to anything material for SodaStream? Will it generate sales or profits for the home carbonation beverage company? The initial observation is that it will boost their Super Bowl return on investment, shortening the payback timeframe. The total investment was $5 million given reports indicate that this ad cost $1 million to produce, along with the $4 million price tag of the 30 second spot. To recuperate this $5 million, it would have taken Coca-Cola or Pepsi a few months since they have such a broad product portfolio and they are so well distributed in the marketplace. SodaStream on the other hand is not as widely available and can be assumed to take longer to capture this $5 million. They are also still trying to gain distribution in many locations, and lack the same level of brand recognition the other beverage advertisers has.

Bottles exploding during commercial

Bottles exploding during commercial
(Source: YouTube)

After this Super Bowl event, I do not expect brand recognition will be that big of a problem any longer. Whether it was the company itself pushing to increase the public's knowledge of their product or the media driving this exposure, SodaStream will become a household name. And the stronger brand recognition will help them get into more retailers and sales locations. For their existing outlets, this may represent increased sales.

What may have been 9 months or a full year to realize the gains could potentially be achieved in 6 months. The total investment – $5 million – was certainly significant. But the increased attention that resulted from the banned version along with displaying a Super Bowl commercial (during the fourth quarter of a close game) made this a worthwhile investment.

Super Bowl 2013 Analysis Series:
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3Part 4

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  3. [...] SodaStream made a lot of noise for its banned Super Bowl commercial, Kraft's MiO also generated some buzz with its participation [...]

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