SodaStream, soon to be owned by PepsiCo, mocks classic Coke ad

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SodaStream's 'It's Time for a Change' ad
SodaStream's 'It's Time for a Change' ad Credit: SodaStream

SodaStream is keeping up its attacks on big beverage companies, despite the fact that it will soon be owned by one. The home-soda making brand today released a new spot that spoofs Coke's classic "Hilltop" ad.

SodaStream is about to become a part of Coke competitor PepsiCo as a result of a $3.2 billion acquisition that was announced in August and is expected to close in January. And while the new ad mocks a classic Coke commercial, the environmental message could just as easily be taken as a shot at PepsiCo. Both Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo sell plenty of bottled water packed in plastic bottles. The ad, which was created in-house, targets the environmental damage cause by single-use plastic bottles.

Coke's 1972 Hilltop ad was shot on a sun-splashed, grassy hill in Italy, with a diverse cast singing the famous line, "I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony." The spot re-entered the public consciousness in 2015 when it was used in the finale of "Mad Men."

SodaStream's version takes place atop a hill of disposed plastic bottles that are causing problems for sea animals, like a gaggle of penguins shown caught in a plastic bottle holder. Singer Rod Stewart makes a cameo as the voice of a sea turtle. There's even a corporate boardroom scene in which a cast of mostly white male executives are shown laughing about selling four billion bottles of water, which in the ad carry the brand name "Liter."

"Plastic has become a pandemic threat with its impact upon human health still unknown, but with devastating environmental consequences to our oceans and marine life," SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said in a statement. "In this campaign, we wanted to give a voice to marine animals and, together with them, encourage people and corporations to switch from single-use plastic to reusable packaging."

SodaStream has been targeting big soda companies for years. So while the approach is not new, the spot signals that the brand has not tempered its message as it prepares to be swallowed by PepsiCo. Of course, taking on Coke, and not Pepsi, likely makes the ad more palatable to SodaStream's new owners. The question is whetther SodaStream will be able to keep up its corporate attacks, and not look hypocritical, once it is officially part of one of the world's largest food and beverage companies.

In regards to the current ad, SodaStream in a statement to Ad Age said: "This campaign is a reflection of the world we live in. We see our acquisition by PepsiCo as recognition of our environmental work and we will continue on that path, and even accelerate our mission to save the planet from plastic waste."

When the deal was announced in August, then-PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi stated that SodaStream was "well-aligned" with PepsiCo's goal of "making more nutritious products while limiting our environmental footprint," adding that "together, we can advance our shared vision of a healthier, more-sustainable planet."

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