Hard Choices

Daniel Birnbaum on SodaStream's Super Bowl Ad


Daniel Birnbaum on SodaStream's Super Bowl Ad

Illustration by Jimmy Turrell

From an advertising perspective, the Super Bowl is the world’s greatest stage. But our DNA has up till now been intentionally nontraditional. Guerrilla marketing, grass-roots tactics. We haven’t wanted to sound like just another soda brand, and anyway, there’s no way we could ever compete dollar for dollar with the big guys. The marketing budget of Coca-Cola (KO) is close to $12 billion a year, and ours is somewhere in the realm of $65 million, about a half-percent of theirs. So if we used the textbook they did, we’d be crushed.

We started to experiment with TV advertising earlier in 2012. It’s hard: Our category, home soda making, doesn’t exist. Not only do we have to say to consumers, “Hey, you can do this!” but then we have to tell them why they should. We came up with the SodaStream Effect ad campaign to try to get these ideas across—that we think we’re healthier, better for the environment, and cheaper than traditional sodas—all in 30 seconds. The spot has three different scenes of people using a SodaStream, and each time dramatically cuts to bottles evaporating, showing that you don’t need those bottles anymore. I think it works. We even got banned in England! The U.K. broadcasters have a group that censors advertising, and they decided our ad was telling consumers to save the environment instead of going to the supermarket. It’s so ridiculous.

We’re going to use an iteration of that ad during the Super Bowl. We’re under a nondisclosure agreement in terms of how much we paid CBS (CBS), but it’s pretty well-known that Super Bowl spots cost around $4 million. It’s a big risk for us—we’re not used to spending millions of dollars on any TV ads, especially on one spot. But in the past couple years, we’ve been increasing our distribution in the United States. Now is the time to step on the accelerator.

We chose to buy one of the last spots in the game. We’re going to be on in the two-minute break before the fourth quarter. At that point, you’ll have already seen so many commercials trying to sell you life, happiness, sex. And you’ll have already seen other spots by the big soda companies. You’ll be sitting in your living room surrounded by dozens of bottles and cans, some of them trashed on the sofa, and then comes the ad for SodaStream (SODA), a little tiny brand that maybe you’ve never heard of, saying, “Wake up, America, there’s a smarter way! It’s magic!” That’s the moment we aspire for. — As told to Emma Rosenblum   


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Companies Mentioned

  • KO
    (Coca-Cola Co/The)
    • $42.22 USD
    • 0.17
    • 0.4%
  • CBS
    (CBS Corp)
    • $54.62 USD
    • -1.29
    • -2.36%
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