Oatly Outsmarted Twitter Trolls Hating On Its Super Bowl Commercial by Giving Away a T-shirt About Hating Its Commercial
Did you catch the Oatly commercial during the Super Bowl where the company’s CEO sang a little jingle about how it’s “like milk, but made for humans,” while playing a keyboard in the middle of a field?
Here’s a refresher:
Did you hate that? Did you hate it enough to wear a T-shirt telling everybody how much you hated it? Oatly won’t be offended. In fact, it was kind of banking on that happening.
“You can look at it and say, ‘That might be the stupidest use of ad space on the Super Bowl ever,” John Schoolcraft, Oatly’s chief creative officer, told Ad Age.
Oatly had these T-shirts already on deck, ready for the social media blast that would likely come.
“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, which you can wear proudly knowing we will not be offended in any way,” the company wrote on Instagram.
Despite the performative hate on Twitter and Instagram from celebrities and common folk alike, the full run of 500 T-shirts was gone in minutes.
Oatly was ready for this reaction. The commercial first aired in Sweden in 2014 (years before the oat milk hype reached American shores in earnest) and Oatly had to take it down after the country’s dairy lobby sued. So, the company was aware of the polarizing nature of its commercial.
It's also probably aware of the gladiatorial nature of American commercial judgment. Especially during Commercials’ Biggest Night, we’re all practically live-tweeting our thumbs-up or thumbs-down of commercials. This one, bare bones with an amateur singer/songwriter performing a song about non-dairy milk options and with a track record of litigation from a major company’s dairy lobby, was primed to get a reaction. And the internet’s snowball effect, where one influential person says they hate something and everyone else follows suit for clout, worked its magic.
Oatly wisely just waited in the corner, playing advertising judo and using the force of their opponent against them, flipping their hatred onto the mat and giving Oatly free advertising.