Anyone who has ever watched a Super Bowl – or paged through the ads on YouTube the next day – knows that two things are set in stone: One, Pepsi will buy four ad slots, and two, the Pepsi ad in any given year will be a snarky-verging-on-whiney attack on Coca-Cola that doesn’t do much beyond loudly reinforcing Pepsi’s position as the perennial also-ran in the cola wars.
Hey, whatever floats your boat.
But, according to CBS, you can only attack one of their advertisers if you are willing to spend as much as the guy you are attacking. They have just informed Sodastream that their ad is not welcome in the Super Bowl lineup because it is “directly aimed at two of the largest and most valued sponsors” – Coke and (ta-dah!) Pepsi. Yep. You can position yourself as the little guy willing to take on the Big Evil of the market leader … but only if you are willing to spend the same big bucks as, you know, Big Evil. Goliath pays the bills, so no Davids are wanted in this particular marketplace.
The problem for CBS, of course, is that the “marketplace” has long passed them by. There was a time where the big three US networks decided what people did and did not see, and that was it. And while the big brains at the network obviously don’t understand that times have changed, the fact of the matter is the power has long devolved from a handful of guys in corner offices to the viewers themselves. And if CBS doesn’t want you to see something that might change the way you think about their two biggest sponsors, well tough. It’s not 1988 anymore. It’s not their call.