UK ad copy body Clearcast sticks by baffling decision to ban Bogusky SodaStream ad

Silly old Clearcast, the media owner-owned body that clears and prepares commercials for transmission in the UK, is sticking by its highly controversial decision to ban SodaStream’s ad knocking the (alleged) excesses of the soft drinks industry. SodaStream’s appeal against the ban has been turned down.

Clearcast says the ad “could be seen as telling people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks, instead help to save the environment by buying a SodaStream.” Note the ‘could.’ And what’s wrong with that point of view? It’s a free country isn’t it? Isn’t it? Not on British telly apparently.

Clearcast is also in the soup for switching its ad clearance contract to WPP’s in-house production operation Hogarth, a bizarre decision it justifies by saying it did so on the recommendation of a ‘consultant.’ Consultants aren’t right all the time, as most companies (including Clearcast board members like ITV and Channel 4) well know. In this particular instance a gaggle of London agencies, worried by confidentiality issues, beg to differ.

Clearcast managing director is Chris Mundy (left), former head of audiences at the BBC (research to you and me) and its chairman is Mark White, former sales director of Channel Five.

Sodastream now says it’s going to sue Clearcast, which should be interesting. The offending ad (which has been shown just about everywhere else with no problems) is partly inspired by well-known soft drinks opponent Alex Bogusky (there’s a Bogusky lookalike in the film).

Clearcast hotly denies that it’s been got at by the soft drinks, supermarket or indeed any other industry.

Fine, but if it hasn’t, why the hell has it banned the ad?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.