Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tweets 'n twats 'n SodaStream

There's a story afloat about how various departments in the government can take weeks to approve a single "tweet." In fact, there is word of a twelve step tweet approval process. Haven't seen any proof, but it's a story that has the ring of authenticity about it.

But as if to underline just how all-powerful the big dogs are in the Harper gang, Jason Kenney ripped forth a tweet today that was obviously unburdened by any twelve steps of approval nor weeks of deliberation. In a sly broadside aimed at the BDS movement, he thanked Oxfam for giving him the idea of buying a SodaStream home soda-pop machine.

SodaStream is an Israeli start-up that wants you to make your own pop at home. No longer will you have to pick up a box of Pepsi or Mountain Dew in your weekly shop. It is so much more convenient to have an apparatus on your kitchen counter that will produce something that tastes almost the same for almost the same price.

Entrepreneurs have been trying to pull out the rug from under Big Soda forever. I remember a plucky Canadian start-up by the name of Poppe Shoppe that was going to do what SodaStream is going to do; unseat the big boys in the world of carbonated sweetened water. They had Maple Leaf icon Eddy Shack shilling for them. I was rather naive in those days, so I invested the family savings, which, long story short, was probably a contributing factor in the divorce that eventually followed.

SodaStream has Scarlett Johansen instead of Eddy Shack, which I suppose is an improvement, but they still don't have a hope in hell. No rinky-dink start-up is going to unseat Big Soda any more than some petrol start-up is going to knock off Exxon and BP.

SodaStream does have one advantage though. It has garnered the opprobrium of the BDS folks who take umbrage at the fact that the company bills itself as Israeli but does its manufacturing in the occupied West Bank. That's fair enough, but why is it an advantage?

Because lots of folks like Jason Kenney, who would never in a million years dream of installing on their kitchen counter a machine for making unhealthy soda water, are suddenly drawn to the idea simply because it allows them to give the finger to the BDS crowd! This is nothing short of brilliant market positioning by the SodaStream folks.

It does however raise some questions about the professionalism of Jason Kenney. He is in the news because he is a cabinet minister in the government of Canada. Is it appropriate that he mock Oxfam? Is it appropriate that he denigrate BDS? Are there not professional standards of neutrality demanded of government functionaries, regardless of their personal opinions?

In the Harper government, apparently not.

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