Who says that Super Bowl commercials aren’t an influential and powerful piece of the cultural mosaic? One of this year’s spots was certainly volatile enough to cause a major celebrity to break off a long relationship with a well-established charity, at least. Indeed, SodaStream’s Super Bowl XLVIII commercial has now reached a new level of controversy and not merely because of Ms. Johansson turning to the camera with the painfully forced fighting words: “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.”
No, today SodaStream’s Super Bowl commercial is back in the news because as a result of her appearing in the spot and her greater partnership with the alternative soft drink company, Scarlett Johansson’s association with the humanitarian nonprofit organization Oxfam International is coming to an end. Why? Because SodaStream’s main factory is located on land that many claim is illegally occupied by Israel and should rightly belong to the Palestinians.
Johansson had been an “ambassador” for the venerable Oxfam, but when she also agreed to be the “global brand ambassador” for SodaStream, it put an expiration date on that first relationship. We’re not taking sides on whether the actress was right to partner with SodaStream, was right to exit Oxfam, or whether the charitable organization was right to pressure her into doing so; what we are declaring is that if it weren’t for the SodaStream Super Bowl ad, likely none of this would have happened. It seems that a big game ad was just too much of a heavyweight news story to not draw in other aspects of its star’s life.
To the uninformed, a Super Bowl commercial might seem like just a bunch of talking babies and new car model announcements, but there’s much more going on behind the scenes, and now we have seen just how much of an impact all that off screen drama can have.