Friday 15 December 2017

Scarlett Johansson hits back at critics over controversial SodaStream ad

Scarlett Johansson hit back at critics in a new version of the controversial SodaStream commercial in last night's Super Bowl.

The actress made headlines when she came under fire from Oxfam for endorsing the Israeli-maker of fizzy drinks, which operates in the occupied West Bank.

But last night, Johansson, 29, took a swipe at critics in front of millions of Americans professing just how much she "loves helping people" in the final edit of the advert, which aired during the Super Bowl's coveted ad break.

Last week, the actress announced she was ending her relationship with the humanitarian group after eight years, citing "fundamental differences of opinion".

She will continue to serve as SodaStream's global ambassador, which the star claims is not only "committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine".

SodaStream chief executive Daniel Birnbaum told The Independent the company was being "demonised" by activists and admitted the location of the factory is often a "pain". Birnbaum pointed out the factory is just one of 25 production facilities they run worldwide.

He added: "We have to deal with the media and activist who too often demonise us just because of the location of the factory.

"We purchase special health insurance for our 500 Palestinian employees so that we can be sure they have coverage for things like emergency surgery and organ transplants."

Pro-Palestinian activists have condemned the soft drinks company for maintaining the factory in an industrial zone in Mishor Aduminium in the West Bank: a territory captured by Israel in 1967, but claimed by the Palestinians.

A spokesperson for Oxfam said: "It's not about their labour practices or conditions for workers in the factory, it's about the factory's location in an illegal settlement built on the land and resources of Palestinian communities."

The advert was reportedly banned by US network FOX forcing SodaStream to edit out a line where Johansson  hit out at rivals: "Sorry Coke and Pepsi", or risk being pulled out of the TV event altogether.

Drinks giants Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola are two of the biggest spenders in the Super Bowl's ad break. Pepsi is also the official sponsor of the Super Bowl's half-time show. In the final version, Johansson concluded the advert saying: "I love helping people".

Birnbaum denied stirring controversy is part of its business stategy, but it seems that SodaStream has turned scandal into a marketing campaign.

The advert has been watched more than nine million times since it was posted 27 January.

Maria Tadeo

Independent News Service

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