SodaStream CEO Daniel Burnbomb has taken his company from a modest novelty manufacturer to an international sensation that is selling millions of home carbonation machines world wide and will have a half million-dollar advert during the most watched event in the U.S., the American football Super Bowl championship. I interviewed Burnbomb at his factory in an Israeli settlement in the Palestinian West Bank to learn more about the company’s success story.
RIGHT: “If you love the bubbles, set them free.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Barb Weir: Mr. Burnbomb, SodaStream has been around for years. Why is it suddenly so popular?
Burnbomb: There are many reasons, Barb. We have a green marketing campaign and we provide a great product at a great price. Our biggest distributor is Wal-Mart, and you know they’re all about low prices. We worked very hard to meet their requirements.
Barb Weir: What are their requirements, exactly?
Burnbomb: Of course, reducing cost is the main one. But it’s part of their tradition to pay slave wages, exploit the workers’ poverty and care little for their safety. In most cases, this is accomplished by going to the most impoverished nations in the world, but Israel manages to impoverish the Palestinians under its control and has permitted us to confiscate their land for our factory. All of this lowers our cost, especially when we pay only a fraction of the wages and benefits that we would if our plant were in Israel.
Barb Weir: But doesn’t your product say “Made in Israel”?
Burnbomb: Indeed it does, Barb. The Israeli government allows us to say that. Isn’t that great? Imagine if the U.S. government would allow products made in Bangladesh or Saipan to be labeled “made in USA”. That would be a great competitive advantage. That’s what “Made in Israel” does for us.
Barb Weir: Actually, Mr. Burnbomb, Saipan was allowed to do that until recently.
Burnbomb: And what an advantage that was! Fortunately, Israel has a lot more clout in Congress than Saipan. No one would ever refuse an advantage for Israel. Do you know we recently won the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval?
Barb Weir: I did. But your success can’t all be due to low prices and Good Housekeeping.
Burnbomb: No, I have to say that our marketing campaign has been spectacular. Have you seen our new penguin-shaped machine? It requires more materials and energy to make, but it fits the theme of our green campaign, “If you love the bubbles, set them free.”
Barb Weir: Very slick. What does it mean?
Burnbomb: It makes the point that we’re all about love and freedom, Barb. We want everyone to love us and our product, and we’ll sell them the gas canisters so that they can free the gas as they digest their beverages.
Barb Weir: You’re selling carbon dioxide to your customers? Isn’t carbon dioxide one of the main causes of global warming? How does that fit your green image?
Burnbomb: Have you seen our penguin-shaped machine?
Barb Weir: And the freedom that you advocate is for carbon dioxide? What about your workers that are living under a military occupation. They can be stopped and arrested without charge trying to get to work.
Burnbomb: That’s a problem, Barb, but they don’t get paid if they don’t work, so we know they’ll do their best. We’re also building a new factory where we can hire bedouins inside Israel. Israel is giving us a break on land confiscated from the bedouins, who are almost as cheap as Palestinians under military occupation.
Barb Weir: Why would bedouins want to be factory workers? Aren’t they a pastoral society?
Burnbomb: Past tense, Barb. Their lands have been confiscated and their villages bulldozed more than a dozen times. These jobs will look like a godsend to them.
Barb Weir: This is part of your campaign to spread love and freedom, and to keep the planet green?
Burnbomb: Of course, Barb. We love offering cheap jobs that nobody else wants, while freeing the workers from a primitive and archaic lifestyle and assuring that the desert will be greener without those awful animals.