SodaStream ‘sorry’ for Scarlett Johansson advert

A campaign was launched earlier this year urging consumers to boycott Israel's SodaStream to pull out of the West Bank

Published: Updated:

Israeli soft-drink maker SodaStream announced on Friday it will relocate its facility from the Occupied West Bank adding it was “sorry” for an ad starring Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson, following a year of negative publicity, the Independent reported.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movenent launched a campaign earlier this year urging consumers to boycott SodaStream until it pulls out of an illegal settlement in the Occupied West Bank.

The company’s stock fell from $55 a share to $21, following falling sales and calls to boycott its fizzy drinks until it has pulled out of Palestinian territories.

However, SodaStream chief executive said the decision to relocate was purely “commercial” and not political.

“It has nothing do to with politics; we’re relocating to modern facility that is three times the size. But if it was up to me, I would have stayed. We showed the world Arabs and Jews can work together,” Daniel Birnbaum told the Independent.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee in Palestine said that “SodaStream’s announcement today shows that the BDS movement is increasingly capable of holding corporate criminals to account for their participation in Israeli apartheid and colonialism.”

The company faced more PR turbulence when they signed Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson as their “global ambassador,” leading to her termination of an association with Oxfam, a conglomerate of NGOs aiming to battle poverty around the world.

After eight years with Oxfam, which opposes trade from illegal Israeli settlements, the actress cited a “fundamental difference of opinion” as reason behind her decision.

Separately, SodaStream is also altering its products to fix what the Birnbaum described as a “mistake.”

“We made a mistake spending millions of dollars in a Super Bowl commercial to get Scarlett Johansson to say ‘Sorry, Pepsi and Coke’, because people don’t want to drink Coca-Cola; they’re looking for ways to drink more water. That was our mistake and we’re sorry,” he said.

However, Palestinian activists that SodaStream’s relocation to southern Israel may still aid in the displacement of Palestinains.

“Even if this announced closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians. Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab (Negev) desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights,” she said.

So far, SodaStream has been dropped by major retailers across North America and Europe including Macy’s in the U.S. and John Lewis in the UK, which the BDS movement said was a product of its activism.