In the age of social media, pretty much anything vegans say or do can be turned into a controversy — and Oatly’s Super Bowl commercial is a prime example of that. The commercial, which features the Oatly CEO calmly singing oatmilk’s praises (literally) immediately divided the internet during the football game.
Read on to learn more about the commercial, Oatly’s CEO, and how the whole thing was actually a genius marketing ploy seven years in the making.
Oatly CEO Toni Petersson starred in the brand’s Super Bowl commercial.
On Sunday, Feb. 7, in the midst of celebrity- and action-packed Super Bowl commercials for companies like Cheetos, General Motors, and State Farm, things suddenly slowed down when Oatly CEO Toni Petersson appeared calmly on the screen, basking in the sun.
“It’s like milk, but made for humans” Petersson sings into the lens. “It’s like milk, but made for humans,” he sings again, as the camera zooms out, revealing that he is playing a keyboard in the middle of an oat field. There’s a carton and glass of Oatly balanced on the keyboard, and Petersson wears a shirt that reads “no artificial badness.”
“Wow, wow, no cow. No, no, no, wow, wow, no cow. No, no, no, wow, wow…” Petersson croons, trailing off as the camera focuses on the Oatly carton. And that’s it. Those are all the lyrics.
Petersson’s voice isn’t anything particularly special, letting viewers focus on the commercial’s underlying message: Dairy isn’t for humans, it’s produced by mother cows for their baby cows. Oatmilk is grown by humans for humans to consume. Not to mention, the dairy industry is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainability is at the heart of Oatly’s mission.
Oatly’s Super Bowl commercial was filmed seven years ago.
It’s sort of appropriate that the sustainability-focused company’s Super Bowl ad was actually recycled. As reported by Adweek, Oatly filmed the low-budget, 30-second ad back in the summer of 2014, in an oat field in southern Sweden, where Oatly is based. Petersson wrote the lyrics himself, and people who have seen Oatly’s billboards and packaging will probably recognize his lyrical phrases.
However, the commercial didn’t get much airtime when it was first made — according to Adweek as milk lobbyists actually got Sweden to legally ban the commercial from airing in the country.
Oatly gave away shirts in honor of those who hated the Super Bowl ad.
Minutes after the commercial aired during the big game, Oatly shared a photo to Instagram of a T-shirt with the slogan “I totally hated that Oatly commercial.” Oatly put the shirts up on its website for free, and they promptly sold out.
“We believe that having different opinions on things is what helps move society forward, even if those particular opinions are strong enough for you to want to wear them in t-shirt form,” Oatly wrote on the T-shirt order page.
Oatly also proudly stated on its homepage that the company knows the commercial was weird, but: “Our attempt to promote Toni's singing skills to a wider audience actually got you to visit an oatmilk company website on the big day. Total success!”
Not only are these free shirts sure to give Oatly some more press, but the vegan company also got tons of promo on Twitter, with keyboard warriors expressing opinions all over the map. Check out some of the internet’s opinions on the commercial, below — we recommend scrolling through these hilarious takes while enjoying an ice cold glass of oatmilk.