A sexy SodaStream commercial featuring Scarlett Johansson has been nixed by the Fox TV network for this year's Super Bowl – because it ends with Johansson saying, "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi."
SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum accused Fox of rejecting the commercial "because they're afraid of Coke and Pepsi," USA Today reported.
Nevertheless, the commercial is likely to be aired, because Birnbaum said he had little choice but to cut the offending line. "If I could get my money back, I'd be happy to be out of that deal," he added.
"What are they afraid of?" asked Birnbaum. "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."
The two soft-drink giants, longtime spenders on Super Bowl ads, are back in the game this year, and Pepsi also is sponsoring the halftime show.
Fox executives declined to comment. So did executives from PepsiCo. Coca-Cola spokeswoman Lauren Thompson said: "I can confirm we did not pressure Fox. Other than that, we don't comment on our competitors' efforts."
CBS, which aired the Super Bowl last year, took a similar action against SodaStream’s spot for that game.
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Johansson has been the subject of criticism in recent weeks since becoming a brand ambassador for SodaStream, an Israeli company which provides a device for making soda and other carbonated drinks.
The critics, who include Oxfam International, a charity which is also promoted by Johansson, took issue with SodaStream's factory in Ma'ale Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
Oxfam said that it "believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law."
Last weekend, Johansson issued a statement in which she said that she was "a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine."