Remember those quirky little machines that made fizzy drinks that were abundant in the 1980’s? Sodastreams were a phenomenal household name – for those who could afford them, along with the ice drinks machines. I recall wanting a Sodastream as a child but wasn’t that lucky so Coca Cola ruled the day with their limited edition can designs – which I could never understand, were you supposed to keep them somewhere?
This was also at a time when Blue Peter was asking you to send your cans and crush them for charity, before they went from heavy steel to today’s light steel and aluminium cans. Crushing them on your head was either stupidity or bravery – I know which now. Plastic bottles were also deemed harmful and soon they too followed using plastics that would break down one million years quicker (450 years) and be recycled more easily.
So where is Sodastream today and why all the fuss? It’s been alleged by Clearcast, the trade body that clears all TV ads before they can be aired and is funded and backed by television broadcasters, that their latest Sodastream advertisement cannot be aired on telly as it “denigrated” fizzy drinks.
The scenario supposedly states that going to the supermarket and buying fizzy drinks is bad for the environment. In an age where every other product is denounced for being against the environment, it would seem an appropriate avenue for an ad to take. Indeed the censors allowed the pepsi cola taste test to run, so what’s the problem here!?!
However most advertisements on the television and indeed radio that encourage the dislike of another product aren’t usually allowed to air. OK, so in America Presidents go head to head claiming this that and the other that may not be true, but in the UK whether a fact is true or not, you can’t go around telling people not to buy things. Even if the government does. In any case, we watched the American worded ad online and in our view, someone at Clearcast has shares in the bottled drinks market if the English ad is the same.
Banned on telly not online – view banned Sodastream Advert above
It comes down to the wording. It’s not as if Sodastream has not been active on British television. Sodastream have run advertisements this year, in 2011 and in 2010 all without being censored or banned from the telly. So why all the fuss? It seems whether true or not, telling people to stop going to the supermarket and be eco friendly is simply not being a good sport, old chap.
There’s a lot of sour grapes from the Chief Exec Daniel Birnbaum who told the Telegraph “This decision is totally absurd,” he said. “Instead of banning the advertising of bottled beverages for devastating the environment, the UK broadcasters banned our ad. By doing so, they chose to protect the beverage industry that spends millions annually on television ads.”
So back to the wording. I’m sure if Sodastream took on board the criticism, while of course maximising the free publicity from this ‘outrageous’ decision by Clearcast first – and changed their ad a little to show the environmental impact by bottles and cans and showing why their Sodastreams are more eco friendly.
Then it will be more than acceptable for the TV ad to air in the UK – as it currently is in sixty other countries but based on the American version of the advert, it’s difficult to understand the Clearcast decision. It’s really not that clear at all. Meanwhile another censoring committee is probably allowing scenes of rape and murder at a cinema near you soon.
Are Sodastreams more environmentally friendly? Yes that’s without a doubt and they have a detailed breakdown on recycling and carbon footprint . Are they cost effective? Not entirely when you consider the cost of supermarket brand fizzy pop, lemonade and colas. It is much cheaper to haul these bottled drinks home. But the Sodastream has another winnable point, less calories.
It is possible that one day, fizzy drinks prices will rise due to the cost of plastic fines for packaging. Much like the worldwide march on carrier bag taxes. And there is a slight irony that Sodastreams product also comes in a bottle, about 5 less 2 litre bottles when comparing that their one bottle makes 12 litres from a 500ml container – but still a bottle.
Be in no doubt, this isn’t only about the eco system. It’s a battle of the multi billion pound drinks market across the globe. Drinks like coca cola won’t disappear but they may change how they operate. Instant drinks on the go will probably never go away but with collapsible reusable bottles there may be a way to buy and drop, heat wash and reuse and re-dispense in the future.
And the likes of Coca Cola aren’t without their syrup based market either, much like Sodastream in the eighties, McDonalds and other food retailers use the Syrup on tap system but these aren’t available to households just yet but may well be in the future.
The figures are incredible however, over 500,000 billion bottles and cans are thrown away each year, 130,000 billion in the USA alone. I’m drinking from a Coca Cola bottle right now so I’m no eco saint either. Coca Cola mainly as was on the go,if at the supermarket I buy the 18 pence 2 litre brand. Sodastream will be back on your telly soon enough but not before they milk this story before it fizzes out.