See Oatly bring a 2014 ad banned in Sweden to the U.S. for its Super Bowl debut
Oatly recycled an ad that first ran in Sweden in 2014, and was promptly banned there, for its Super Bowl debut.
The “Wow No Cow” spot is Swedish brand Oatly’s attempt at raising its name recognition in the U.S. on advertising’s biggest night.
“It’s definitely not your typical Super Bowl commercial with the celebrity or over production,” says John Schoolcraft, Oatly’s chief creative officer.
The spot, which ran in the game’s second quarter, shows Oatly CEO Toni Petersson singing a song he wrote with lyrics such as “It’s like milk, but made for humans,” as he stands in an oat field in Sweden playing an electric piano.
A 30-second version (above) of this 60-second spot (below) ran during the game.
With Super Bowl air time running roughly $5.5 million for 30 seconds, it’s a major bet for Oatly. But the production costs back in 2014 were minimal.
“It cost a fraction of what the catering budget is for almost every other spot in the Super Bowl,” says Schoolcraft.
The spot, directed by Torbjörn Martin, took just one or two takes and was one of a series of commercials shot over a few days in Sweden during the summer, Schoolcraft recalls.
“You can look at it and say ‘that might be the stupidest use of ad space on the Super Bowl ever,’” he says.
But the spot fits squarely with Oatly’s messaging. And if a fraction of the millions watching the game take notice and seek out the product, it will have done its work.
“The best approach is just to put something out there that feels real and then let them make their judgment,” says Schoolcraft.
Oatly has been in the U.S. since late 2016 but took a while to ramp up production to meet rising demand. Now, it’s ready to make more of a splash.
“It’s just the right time right now for us to make a bigger statement to the whole national audience,” he says.
The spot, with its “wow no cow” message, aired during Swedish primetime TV and the Swedish dairy lobby promptly sued Oatly. So now, while the spot can’t be shown in Sweden, it’s making its U.S. TV debut seven years later. Versions have appeared aired on YouTube for years outside of Sweden, but hasn’t been part of a big ad push in the United States. Until now.
Oatly decided last fall to run an ad in the Super Bowl, says Schoolcraft. While the brand has been in bigger U.S. cities for years, it’s only recently added distribution in smaller markets and in grocery chains such as Walmart and Kroger.
The ad made its national U.S. debut the same night a rival, Chobani, ran a 15-second commercial for its oat milk. That spot is airing in only 11 markets, not nationally, and is also one that has run before, but is much newer than Oatly's entry.