Israel’s ‘Super’ Half-Minute

Last year, it was the most watched television event in U.S. history with almost 111 million viewers. And in 2013, Israel will be represented.

The Olympics? Nope.

Hint: It’s the American version of the ancient spectacles at the Roman Coliseum.

Yes, it’s the Super Bowl, and late in the fourth quarter of this year’s broadcast, right when all the used empty bottles will line tables and countertops, the Israeli company SodaStream will debut a 30-second TV spot.

According to Yonah Lloyd, chief corporate development and communications officer at SodaStream International, “We’re going after Coke and Pepsi in their prime-time slot of the year.”

Holy David’s Sling, Batman!  This time we’re taking on two giants.

And giant-killing ain’t cheap.

CBS’s NFL title game on Feb. 3 presents the costliest seconds known to Madison Avenue, running around $3.8 million for a half-minute.

Such savvy, party-crashing, challenger-brand tactics — like those that have been previously utilized by the Israeli company — were banned by broadcasters in the United Kingdom.  According to a report on MediaPost, Clearcast, the body that approves ads for a group of UK commercial broadcasters, turned it away saying, “The ad could be seen to tell people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks. … We thought it was a denigration of the bottled-drinks market.”

In the States, such straightforward methods are as common as, well, lines of empty bottles after a Super Bowl party.

Along with being banned in fuddy-duddy England — which itself is a hotbed of anti-Israel-spewing venom (or as The Spectator’s Melanie Phillips calls it “the brand leader in a ‘deranged revulsion’ in the demonization and delegitimization of Israel”) — the manu-facturer gets the fizz knocked out of it in the Googlesphere.

Search SodaStream and the results will be a shaken-up, explosion of recycled BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) hatred aimed at crushing a company that’s actually doing some good for the environment. Soda-Stream even employs approximately 450 Palestinians and 400 Israeli-Arabs in its five manufacturing plants in Israel. You would think it should get some praise.

Luckily, and above this fray, the world will see a commercial created by ex-Crispin Porter Bogusky ad man Alex Bogusky (a wunderkind in marketing circles) that presents the product as the hero out to tackle Pepsi and Coke’s home turf.

His knack for employing clever creativity as a publicity device will no doubt generate a lot of media attention focused on both SodaStream and Israel in the coming weeks.

For Israel, a country that’s a leader in the green revolution, the mass appeal of the Super Bowl is a winning opportunity to gain enormous yardage in the battle for hearts and minds.  Indeed, maybe rather than airing a disclaimer (like so many ads do), SodaStream could actually claim that the product is made in Israel (along with Bar Refaeli, the Israeli super model who will be featured in a Go Daddy ad, and half the technology stored in the devices used by the game-watching couch potatoes). Maybe then the world will get up, take note and cheer.

Abe Novick, whose work is at abebuzz.com, is a local freelance writer.

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