Scarlett Johansson, SodaStream, and Oxfam International

On 10 January 2014, SodaStream, an Israeli company that manufactures home carbonation devices, announced a new multi-year endorsement agreement with U.S. film actress Scarlett Johansson. SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum explained in an interview with the New York Times that Johansson was going to “demonstrate how easy it is, how sexy it is, to make your own soda.” The headquarters of SodaStream are in Lod, Israel, and the company’s primary manufacturing facility is located in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone in the occupied West Bank.

By signing onto that sponsorship deal, Johansson entered into an apparent conflict of interest, which set off an international political controversy. Since 2007, she had served as “Global Ambassador” for Oxfam International, participating in public relations and fundraising efforts for the respected anti-poverty NGO. Following the announcement of her new endorsement deal, Oxfam released a critical statement saying it was opposed “to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.” On 24 January, Johansson responded in a statement of her own, published by the Huffington Post, in which she stood by SodaStream, describing the company as “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine.” In response to Johansson’s statement and mounting public pressure, Oxfam reconsidered the actress’s role as global ambassador and accepted her resignation on 30 January, three days before the Super Bowl when the commercial in question was scheduled to air.

Given that SodaStream is one of the main targets of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), this high-profile incident provoked widespread response amongst Palestinian and human rights activists, serving as the inspiration for numerous social media campaigns. Below are three such pieces, which were shared on Twitter by a human rights activist based in Rome named Stephanie Westbrook (@stephinrome).

Scarlett Johansson SodaStream BDS
An image of Scarlett Johansson holding a SodaStream device is superimposed over a photo of the Separation Wall. (Stephanie Westbrook, January 2014.)
A crowded checkpoint serves as the backdrop for an image of Johansson from SodaStream’s Super Bowl commercial. (Stephanie Westbrook, January 2014.)