Oatly: When A Factually True Ad Causes Controversy

When a biologically true statement is ‘controversial’, you know something’s not right…

Oatly, is a Swedish-based company that produces milk alternatives made from (you guessed it) oats. They’re absolutely smashing the dairy free market, so they decided to go ahead and spend £700,000 on an epic ad campaign in the London Underground. They filled an entire section in King’s Cross station with a very simple but true statement.

It’s like milk, but made for humans.

Isn’t this so amazing? The beautiful thing about veganism is that it has many simple, yet powerful, truths like this one. Plus, it’s a super effective marketing (and activism) strategy. It gets people thinking, but even better, it gets people thinking about Oatly.

However, outlets such as TheDrum have come up with headlines reading “After angering Swedish dairy industry, Oatly brings controversial ad campaign to the UK”. This is great. Not only has the mere existence of a dairy free drink caused anger among the dairy industry, but this ad campaign is also controversial.

Let’s briefly analyse what Oatly said. They state Oatly is like milk. Seems true enough. It’s white, it tastes good, it has a variety of nutrients, and it goes on cereal, tea and coffee. Nothing too controversial. Now, they also say that it’s made for humans, implying cow’s milk isn’t. Cow’s… milk. Clue is in the title, isn’t it? Oatly is a business that created a drink, for humans. And cow’s milk is for, well, cows. Controversial much!?

Besides being a great ad campaign for Oatly, it also shows the lack of understanding the general population has towards dairy milk. Milk is clearly meant for baby cows. But somehow, we seemed to forget this after seeing countless pictures of celebrities with white moustaches.

The reaction to these ads shows not that Oatly is wrong, but how the dairy industry has influenced our minds so deeply that they’ve made us think that a perfectly correct statement is wrong.

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