Cartoonists Protest SodaStream's Sponsorship of Angoulême as Scarlett Johansson Backs Sponsor

Scarlett Johannson Banned Super Bowl AdDozens of cartoonists have penned an open letter to the Angoulême International Comics Festival, one of the largest such conventions in Europe, who have taken on the controversial beverage company SodaStream as an official sponsor this year.

The Israeli company, which built its factory on disputed land, has been steadily increasing its profile--and thus the scrutiny it falls under--internationally in recent months.

The letter, which was signed by cartoonists from around the world and asks the festival to cut ties with SodaStream, reads in part:

festival_angouleme_affiche_g_n_rale1"We, cartoonists and illustrators from all countries, are surprised, disappointed and angry to find out that SodaStream is an official sponsor of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.

"As you must know, SodaStream is the target of an international boycott call for its contribution to the colonization of Palestinian land, due to its factory in the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, its exploitation of Palestinian workers, and its theft of Palestinian resources, in violation of international law and contravening international principles of human rights.

"Angoulême has had an important role in the appreciation of comics as an art form for over 40 years. It would be sad if SodaStream were able to use this event to whitewash their crimes."

Some of those Palestinian workers have come forward to defend SodaStream in recent weeks, saying in effect that if the factory were to close at this point they would be out of work. There are, as is wont to happen in these situations, allegations that those workers were either paid or pressured to do so.

Last week, Scarlett Johansson's SodaStream ad, slated to run tonight during Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos,
made its first headlines when some of the wording in the ad had to be changed to accommodate major Super Bowl advertisers Coca-Cola and Pepsi, who were name-checked in the original version of the ad.

As word of the ad hit the airwaves, though, more criticisms cropped up, including from Oxfam, a human rights organization with which Johansson has a long history. Oxfam criticized her decision to align herself with the company, saying that the actress’ role as a global ambassador was incompatible with her promotion of SodaStream.

Johansson quit her role at Oxfam rather than lose the SodaStream sponsorship.

"She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement," said a spokesman for the Captain America: The Winter Soldier star.