Sacramento-area human rights activists stood outside Target to protest against the company Sodastream. Target is one of many major retailers that sell the controversial product.
The at-home soda maker is stirring up some fizz after spokesperson Scarlett Johansson’s Superbowl ad surfaced online.
In the 30 second commercial, Johansson says: “Start with plain water, add bubbles, mix in the perfect flavor … Look, a soda that’s better for you, and all us.”
But human rights activists said otherwise.
“Advertising can be false advertising, and that’s what Sodastream is,” Maggie Coulter of the Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights said.
Sodastream operates a factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial park, just 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem. Protestors say this area is an illegal Israeli settlement, in violation of international law.
“The Geneva Conventions forbid an occupied power in this case the state of Israel, from moving its population or profiting from land that it occupies in this case the West Bank,” Coulter said. “We feel it is not ethical to sell products that are in violation of international law, things that are made at other people’s human rights.”
What makes this even more controversial is Scarlett Johansson herself. In the last eight years, Johansson had been a Global Ambassador of Oxfam International, a non-governmental human rights and anti-poverty organization that publically opposes Sodastream.
“They’re green-washing this product,” Coulter said. “They’re saying it’s environmentally friendly at the same time, the Israel government is destroying farm land, stealing Palestinian water, and destroying Palestinian trees. I don’t think that is environmentally friendly.”
Johansson immediately defended her role in the ad in the Huffington Post, saying “I stand behind the Sodastream product and am proud of the work that I have accomplished at Oxfam.”
But with massive pressure from around the world, Johannson resigned her position on Jan. 31.
Several chain stores in Europe have already taken Sodastream off their shelves. Protesters here hope US retailers follow their lead.
The original 30 second ad also stirred up controversy when Johansson ended the commercial sending a negative message to Coke and Pepsi. The ad has since been edited, and the abridged version will air during the Superbowl.