Almost as anticipated as the Super Bowl are the advertisements run during the annual sports tradition. Companies from all walks of life will kick off campaigns during the iconic football showdown. But this year, what is more notable than the advertisements which are being run is the advertisement which CBS, the broadcaster of the big game, refused to air.
It is common to hear from the right-wing that there is a free market. So it may come as a surprise to them to discover that despite money being as good from one company as another, that a bottle-less soda manufacturer, Sodastream, despite having developed and put up the money for a commercial for the Super Bowl, was denied the coveted spot. Why, you may ask, were they frozen off of the airwaves? Because the company competes against traditional soda bottlers Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and the two companies pressured CBS to keep the ad spot away from appearing.
Here is the advertisement that the company prepared for the big game:
Sodastream was originally invented by the W & A Gilbey Ltd. company in 1903. It was a method for people to produce their own carbonated beverages at home. It hit the height of popularity in the 70s and 80s, but has been having a resurgence the past few years with the rise in waste awareness and the green movement. They are now aiming to bring themselves mainstream once again, with this advertisement as a key part of the campaign.
The move by Coke and Pepsi, or rather the success of it, demonstrates the fallacy of the free market argument. So long as competition can be frozen out, there is no free market. CBS capitulating to their demands demonstrates that it is not in control of its own fate, and is dependent on its advertisers to function. This calls into question their news division, and its ability to realistically portray the news where it comes to any of their advertisers.
As for Sodastream itself, users of its innovative home-soda do seem to save a little bit over traditional bottled soda, and they are slightly healthier for you, but the real advantage is that they are healthier for the environment. With the United States using an estimated 1500 plastic bottles every second, this translates to a significant strain on both our recycling and disposal systems, turning into literal mountains of trash all across the nation. But to an industry which uses corn syrup instead of sugar in order to save a few pennies, there is no incentive to address the growing issue of plastic bottle disposal.
The actions by Coke and Pepsi to effectively strong-arm another firm into removing advertising for a competing product demonstrates a monopoly, or in this case a duopoly, in the market. This is unhealthy, and damaging for the long-term viability of both firms. While they have not lost significant ground to competition, the competition is shaping up, and growing fast. Sodastream alone has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Other firms waiting in the periphery will assuredly continue to nibble on their heels, and the inevitable end will come to even these two giants.