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SodaStream criticises ad censorship by UK ad body

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MUMBAI: SodaStream International was informed by Clearcast that the company‘s new global ad campaign had been pulled from transmission and would not be permitted to air in the UK market.

Clearcast is the organisation that pre-approves UK TV advertising and is jointly funded by the UK‘s major broadcasters.

The last minute decision came just ahead of the television commercial‘s planned UK premiere on 22 November, during the prime time scheduling of the ‘I‘m a Celebrity‘ programme on Britain‘s ITV1 channel.

The ad shows different scenes of soda bottles disappearing instantaneously as people use the SodaStream soda maker, delivering a powerful message about waste and sustainability. The spot closes with commentary of ‘with SodaStream you can save 1000 bottles per year.‘ Despite already airing successfully in the US, Sweden and Australia, it has been deemed inappropriate for UK audiences.

Clearcast offered the following reasoning for the decision: "The majority decided that the ad could be seen to tell people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks, instead help to save the environment by buying a SodaStream. We thought it was denigration of the bottled drinks market."

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said, "This decision is absurd, and the explanation given is totally unreasonable. Are we really being censored for helping to save the environment? This might be the first time in the world when an environmental approach has been shut down by the media to protect a traditional industry. Of course we‘re competing with bottled beverages, but why is offering a game-changing approach denigrating? It is like saying that iPod ads denigrate the Walkman or that car ads denigrated the horse and buggy. Clearcast‘s decision is disappointing and disturbing for any democratic society."

"This decision appears to put the sensitivities of the world‘s soft drink giants ahead of concern for the environment. We will continue to push Clearcast to reverse their decision and let the British consumer decide. Meanwhile, I invite UK consumers to watch "The SodaStream Effect" on YouTube and form their own opinion on it." youtube.com/sodastream.

According to Euromonitor, there are 629 billion bottles and cans manufactured every year. "With global recycling rates estimated to be less than 30%, more than 1 billion of those bottles and cans are dumped as waste across parks, oceans and landfills every single day. Our ad confronts the beverage industry and its arguably outdated business model by showing people that there exists a smarter way to enjoy soft drinks, empowering them to get the bubbles without the bottles" concludes Birnbaum.

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