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Small company SodaStream bets big on Super Bowl ad

Sodastream home carbonators are displayed at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago on Monday, March 7, 2011.

The Super Bowl is still months away, but companies have already bought up most of the advertising space during the game.

A clever Super Bowl commercial can boost a company’s profile--  but of course, those ads aren't cheap. The steep price tag generally limits participation to big corporations with deep pockets.

But one small company is betting that an expensive ad will win new business.

SodaStream lets you make your own soft-drinks at home. The Isreali company will air a version of an existing ad during the Super Bowl where bottles of pop explode. The underlying message is that do-it-yourself soda will help protect the planet by keeping plastic bottles out of landfills.

Airing the Super Bowl commercial will cost SodaStream about $3.5 million -- or about 10 percent of the company’s earnings.

But it could pay off. Brad Adgate, senior VP of research at Horizon Media, says a Super Bowl ad puts SodaStream in the company of elite advertisers.

“They’re pretty familiar blue-chip advertisers and I think you’re sending a message to advertisers that you’re a blue-chip advertiser too,” says Adgate.

The strategy doesn’t always work.

“The one downside is that a few weeks later, people generally can’t remember these ads. Because we’re bombarded with ads every day,” says Adgate.

Some start-ups went bust within years of buying Super Bowl ads. Remember Pets.com?

But Adgate sees it as a positive move.

“There is a long history of advertisers who might be start-ups or a little bit under-the-radar and using the Super Bowl as a springboard to get into the consciousness of viewers,” says Adgate.

Master Lock became a household name after its Super Bowl ad in 1974, where its padlock remained secure after being shot with a bullet.

And a Super Bowl ad by Hyundai helped change consumer perceptions about the car company.

But a large audience may not transform sales for SodaStream, the do-it-yourself soda company.

“They are going to appeal to people who are gadget lovers, who like new kinds of equipment. I think they will be a niche player in the soft drink business,” says John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.
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Back when I wrote many of the subsequent Master Lock commercials it cost around $50K for a full :60 spot on the Super Bowl. That was about what it cost for us to do the first commercial ever authorized by the NFL to use actual team members when we had seven linemen from the Green Bay Packers try to bust open a Number 15 Master Padlock attached to a blocking sled. The sled lost.
The main reason we ran on the Super Bowl was to be able to brag about it in hardware stores -- and to gain additional hardware distribution.

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