Oatly’s Super Bowl ad debut featured a song about dairy-free milk written and performed by CEO Toni Petersson.
The divisive advertisement first ran in Sweden back in 2014. But it was immediately banned following a lawsuit from the national dairy lobby. Petersson composed the song for the “Wow No Cow” commercial himself. It features lyrics such as “it’s like milk, but made for humans.”
A 30 second cut of the full, 60-second commercial ran during Super Bowl LV yesterday. Since the game, it has received a great deal of attention on Twitter and in the media. However, Oatly was clearly prepared for a mixed reaction. And the company already sold out of its free “I totally hated that Oatly commercial” t-shirts.
“We can’t give you back those 30 seconds, but we can give you this free t-shirt that will let the world know where you stand on our attempt to promote Toni’s singing skills to a wider audience,” reads a post by the brand on Instagram.
‘It’s like milk, but made for humans’
“It’s definitely not your typical Super Bowl commercial with the celebrity or overproduction,” said John Schoolcraft, Oatly’s chief creative officer, according to global media brand Ad Age. “It cost a fraction of what the catering budget is for almost every other spot in the Super Bowl.”
Air time during the Super Bowl typically costs around $5.5 million per 30 seconds. But the seven-year-old ad was produced by the company with minimal expenses over just a few days. “Wow now cow” was directed by Torbjörn Martin, and took only one or two takes to film.
The commercial and Oatly’s follow-up marketing is entirely on-brand. The company’s aim is to get consumers thinking or talking about plant-based milk.
“You can look at it and say ‘that might be the stupidest use of ad space on the Super Bowl ever,” said Schoolcraft. He added: “The best approach is just to put something out there that feels real and then let them make their judgment.”
U.S. Consumers Demand Vegan Milk
Oatly was founded back in 1994, but only entered the U.S. market in 2016. Since then, national and global demand for plant-based milk has grown significantly. Since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, oat milk, in particular, has experienced a huge boost in sales.
“It’s just the right time right now for us to make a bigger statement to the whole national audience,” explained Schoolcraft.
Research and Markets reported that the global vegan milk market, in general, is expected to reach $21.52 billion in 2024. And according to Ad Age, Oatly’s was not the only plant-based milk ad to air on Sunday. New York-based food company and Oatly competitor Chobani also ran a 15-second commercial for its oat milk across 11 markets.