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Soft drinks giants' sensitivities drove decision to ban our ad – SodaStream suggests

By Ben Bouckley , 26-Nov-2012
Last updated on 26-Nov-2012 at 12:30 GMT

SodaStream suggests that UK advertising compliance body Clearcast was more worried about the sensitivities of the world’s soft drinks giants than the environment in pulling its multi-million dollar advert from TV broadcast at the last minute on November 22.

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Fiona Hope, the firm’s UK md, said in a highly charged response to the Clearcast decision – the body is owned by the UK’s eight largest broadcasters – that she thought the decision was "absurd".

The advert was scheduled to run last Thursday during an episode of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’, and had already been shown in the US, Sweden and Australia.

However, Clearcast told SodaStream (global 2011 sales: $275m) that it thought the slickly produced advertisement constitutes a “denigration” of the bottled drinks market.

‘We are not denigrating competitors’

Each time an actor presses the button on the machine in the ad (shown below) a batch of unidentified soft drinks explodes, while a voiceover states: “With SodaStream you can save almost 1000 bottles a year.”

Hitting back at Clearcast’s charge, Hope said: “We have neither named nor disparaged any of our competitors in the industry and cannot see how this makes any sense.”

Her position is at least arguable in light of the code of practice governing UK television advertising.

Clearcast said SodaStream had fallen foul of Rule 3.42 within the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) code, part of its Misleading Advertising;Comparisons/Imitation; Denigration section.

“Advertisements must not discredit or denigrate another product, advertiser or advertisement or a trademark, trade name or other distinguishing mark,” this states.

But SodaStream was instead using the advert to display an alternative way of living sustainably, and developing one of its products key benefits – the reduction of plastic bottle wastage, Hope said.

Stating that she believed consumers should be allowed to make their own decisions about which products to choose, Hope added: “The decision appears to put the sensitivities of the world’s soft drinks giants ahead of concern for the environment.

“We will continue to fight this decision with Clearcast and will push to reverse this decision.”

Bottle recycling rates ‘growing fast’ – BSDA

Richard Laming, media director at the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), refused to be drawn on Hope’s comment regarding the “sensitivities” of soft drinks giants.

But he sent BeverageDaily.com a statement maintaining that the UK’s favorite brands needed the best quality packaging to suit consumer needs.

“Soft drinks packaging is recyclable and recycling rates are growing fast. This packaging makes up only a small proportion of all packaging used by households, and we don’t think that asking our consumers to recycle their empty bottles and cans is too much to ask,” Laming said.

“Recycling is an easy way for people to keep the environmental impact of their drinks low without compromising on quality or taste,” he added.

Clearcast was unavailable for comment this morning.

(Register here for free access to the first ever online event   devoted to Operational Efficiency in food and beverage processing, taking place on November 29, organized by our sister site FoodProductionDaily.com and William Reed Business Media.)

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