Fox is playing hardball with soft-drink machine maker SodaStream.
According to reports, the network rejected the do-it-yourself soda company's Super Bowl commercial featuring Scarlett Johansson seductively extolling the virtues of making soda at home and cooing, "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi." SodaStream has since recut the commercial with a different ending.
Coke and Pepsi happen to be major Super Bowl advertisers, although Coca-Cola insisted to USA Today that the company did not let the ad diss bubble over into Coke pressuring Fox to have it removed.
A Fox representative declined to comment on the situation.
Meanwhile, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum griped to the newspaper: "What are they afraid of? Which advertiser in America doesn't mention a competitor? This is the kind of stuff that happens in China. I'm disappointed as an American."
Yahoo TV brought up the notion that the controversy might enhance SodaStream's big-game profile even further. It also noted that SodaStream had an ad rejected by last year's Super Bowl network, CBS, for showing Pepsi and Coca-Cola truck drivers.
Speaking to Yahoo TV, SodaStream marketing officer Ilan Nacasch opened up about the controversial version of this year's ad, insisting that the nixed "Sorry" line was not a publicity stunt; it was intended to add humor and reinforce the message that SodaStream is an alternative to the major soda bottlers. But that's no longer the case with the recut version of the ad. Writes Yahoo:
At the conclusion of the new version [of the ad], Johansson says, "I just love helping people," according to Nacasch. That's the line that was already going to air in countries other than the United States, "where competitive advertising is more limited."
For now, the original version of the Scarlett Johansson ad (watch above) will live on, on YouTube, where it's clicking along nicely.
This post was updated after a response from Fox.