Superbowl SodaSteam Spoof Ad (VOTE NOW) “Priceless” by John Dworkin
Hoping to maximize publicity surrounding its Superbowl ad, SodaStream released a video previously rejected last week by CBS on the grounds that the ad challenged two other major sponsors: Pepsi and Coca-Cola. The ad went viral, but something else happened along the way: SodaStream, which produces seltzer-makers, is getting attention for operating in the Palestinian Occupied Territory.
AOL’s Daily Finance:
The company’s [SodaStream’s] main production facility is located in a West Bank settlement; Israeli settlements in the occupied territories have long been considered illegal under international law, a view recently affirmed by a panel of judges working under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.
CEO Daniel Birnbaum told the Times of Israel that SodaStream doesn’t “strengthen or support the occupation. What we’re doing is taking a facility in the occupied territory and giving Palestinians a career and economic benefits.”
Whether or not SodaStream supports the occupation, pro-Palestinians activists contend that the converse is certainly true. According to a report by Who Profits?, an Israeli peace group, the company’s “success is based, at least in part, on the structural advantages that production in Israeli settlements enjoys”: “low rent, special tax incentives, lax enforcement of environmental and labor protection laws, as well as additional government support.” And SodaStream pays property taxes that are used to fund “the growth and development” of the settlement that hosts its factory.
With the occupation now more than 45 years old, pro-Palestinian activists aren’t persuaded. “Palestinians are not asking for charity,” said Anna Baltzer, national organizer of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. “They are calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and companies like SodaStream until they end their complicity with Israel’s discriminatory practices. Thousands around the world have joined the campaign to boycott SodaStream, including an exciting new, diverse coalition of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish organizations.” Baltzer also noted that people in several countries have created spoof ads highlighting SodaStream’s connection to the occupation.
SodaStream has of course known the risks of being a settlement producer. In its 2011 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company described its West Bank factory as a source of “rising political tensions and negative publicity,” which “may negatively impact demand for our products or require us to relocate our manufacturing activities to other locations.” Arguing against relocation: the cost of moving, and the loss of tax benefits.