Bill Nye explains why he guest stars in a Super Bowl ad for SodaStream

Key Points
  • SodaStream's Super Bowl spot this year features the discovery of water on Mars.
  • Nye guest-stars in the spot, along with Alyssa Carson, the youngest astronaut training to be part of the first crewed mission to Mars. 
Bill Nye in SodaStream's 2020 Super Bowl ad.

Bill Nye would like you to know how much he likes his SodaStream machines. All four of them.

"I'm in New York today. I have a SodaStream machine here, I have a SodaStream machine at my house in Los Angeles. And I guess we have two SodaStreams at the Planetary Society, if you will, the office," he told CNBC via phone last week. Nye uses the machines to make sparkling water. 

The CEO of the Planetary Society and scientist known as "the Science Guy" will appear (albeit briefly) in SodaStream's first Super Bowl spot for several years. SodaStream sells machines to make seltzer water at home, though flavors can be added too. The company's commercials were initially rejected in 2013 and 2014 for calling out competitors Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Then, in quite the turn of events, Pepsi ended up buying SodaStream in a deal valued at $3.2 billion.

This year's spot shows astronauts discovering water on Mars, prompting a celebration that quickly dies when someone ends up drinking the water after putting it in a SodaStream. Nye and Alyssa Carson, an 18-year-old astrobiology student training to be part of the first crewed mission to Mars, are guest stars in the spot.

SodaStream worked with Goodby Silverstein & Partners on the ad. The company released an extended, 60-second version of the commercial Thursday. A shorter, 30-second cut will air during the Super Bowl.

"I took one class from this famous guy, Carl Sagan, and we talked about water on Mars during the disco era," Nye said, referring to the famous American astronomer. "I joined the Planetary Society. The Planetary Society has been advocating for missions to look for water on Mars for 40 years. So the theme of the spot is just my thang … I'm very happy to be doing this."

Nye also said the environmental benefits are clear.

"You go to ... any mainstream grocery store, or convenience store, and there's a whole aisle of bottled water, much of it nowadays is sparkling, or carbonated," he said. "What are you guys doing? You're going to buy bottled water and haul it home? And furthermore, the water goes to the store on some massive truck, and it came in on some massive ship. It's water, you guys, for crying out loud."

When it comes to the campaign, Nye said SodaStream was already working with the Mars idea, but he did make some suggestions. Some of them involved more inclusive language that reflect the fact that both men and women today are working in space.

"Very commonly, people talked about 'manned' space flight. But in the spot, a couple of the astronauts are women. The expression we use nowadays … is 'crewed,'" he said. "The expression we also emphasize is 'humankind.' … It's not just political correctness. It's fact-based."

This isn't Nye's first Super Bowl commercial. (He starred in a Persil spot in 2017.) But that hasn't dampened his enthusiasm,

"I'm very excited. It's a freakin' Super Bowl ad," Nye said.

He said he'll celebrate watching the game at his home in Los Angeles with his neighbors over spinach pizza and with chips and a cream-cheese and the onion dip his grandmother used to make.

And he'll be staying on-brand.

"We will be gulping SodaStream. Better believe it," he said.

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