Super Bowl Sunday brings with it the potential for the absolute peak of competition in the sport of football. Yet when corporate giants Coca-Cola and Pepsico were faced with an advertising challenge within the beverage market from the manufacturer of home soda systems SodaStream, CBS capitulated to these two giants of the industry, banning SodaStream’s competitive commercial from airing during the Super Bowl.
Such a move shows that despite all the continued and vaunted talk from conservatives and corporate representatives of the values of the free market and how corporations thrive on such a philosophy of competition and support it wholeheartedly, they are hypocritically willing to discard such values in a blink of an eye when it suits them.
There was nothing offensive in the ad, and unlike most commercials and ads, it was completely truthful in its messaging. The ad’s primary focus was the environmentally sound idea that by switching to their home soda system customers could significantly reduce plastic bottle waste. CBS explained that the commercial was unfair to Coca-Cola and Pepsi. However, with the long-time advertising relationship which the two companies have with the Super Bowl over the years, it is difficult to imagine that such a financial investment in the event did not play a factor in the decision from CBS.
Ironically, rather than crush the competition, this ad ban by CBS actually created new visibility for SodaStream at virtually no cost other than the cost of making the ad itself. The ad has gone viral on YouTube with millions of views thus far.
In the end, free market ideals must be tempered with fair market protections, allowing new ideas to spring forth and be tested in the crucible that is our modern economy. CBS’ ban was a clear violation of freedom and fairness, and such censorship of new ideas ultimately impedes economic progress and growth.