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Scarlett Johansson’s Super Bowl Ad Becomes An International Controversy

Fri, January 31, 2014 10:56am EDT by Add first Comment

Scarlett thought she was just making a sexy commercial about a homemade soda-maker, but soon after her Super Bowl ad hit the internet, she faced a harsh backlash and became the center of a globe-spanning debate about Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yes, really.

In her mind, Scarlett Johansson was just making a big Super Bowl commercial endorsing a product — like a bajillion celebrities have done before. But unfortunately for her, she chose the wrong product to endorse — SodaStream — and totally forgot to acknowledge that the advertisement was in serious conflict with her role as an ambassador for the NGO (non-governmental organization) Oxfam.

Scarlett Johansson Resigns From Oxfam After Super Bowl Commercial

So here’s how a 30-second ad became an international controversy — follow closely. The commercial — which features Scarlett stripping down to a little black dress, slurping down some SodaStream soda and ironically proclaiming, “I just love helping people” — drew the ire of Oxfam, who Scarlett has represented for eight years and who publicly opposes SodaStream because they run a factory in a West Bank settlement, an Israeli-occupied territory in Palestine.

Scarlett Johansson Controversy

Oxfam has previously said it believes that businesses “that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support,” according to The Washington Post. So clearly the organization wasn’t cool with one of their most recognizable spokespeople endorsing a product they diametrically oppose.

After Oxfam noted their displeasure, Scarlett responded on Jan. 24 with a blog entry on Huffington Post, saying that, “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.” But it was too late — on Jan. 29 she officially resigned from her position as ambassador for Oxfam.

Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream Ad Becomes An International Controversy

Now this isolated incident has blown up into an international debate. A war of words between Israeli leaders erupted earlier this week about the future of West Bank settlements, presumably because of all the attention Scarlett’s ad has drawn. Additionally, it has also been lumped into an debate over the legitimacy of a movement called BDS, standing for “boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

BDS is an international movement that calls on the world to sanction all of Israel as a way to force them to change their policies towards Palestine. With Scarlett and SodaStream as an entry point, BDS advocates are trying to capitalize and strengthen their stance while the incident remains a hot-button issue.

And that, my friends, is how a 30-second commercial starring a hot actress becomes an international controversy and a spark in the conversation about Israeli-Palestinian policy. So celebrities, what you can learn from this, is that it probably pays to do your homework before you sign on to do a commercial.

— Andrew Gruttadaro

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