Oatly, the oat drink brand known for its quirky marketing, is setting out to educate European audiences on shifting to plant-based eating with a new animation series featuring oat drink carton puppets and some hilarious adult-rated content.
"The New Norm & Al Show," designated for viewers 18 and over, is running on YouTube starting in the U.K., where it represents the brand's biggest ever campaign. It's a tale of the friendship between two puppet oat drink cartons, Norm & Al, as they navigate changing to plant-based consumption.
In the pilot film of five episodes, seen here, Norm ends a toxic friendship with his old pal Milk, a farting, menacing milk carton with whom he enjoyed some wild times in their younger days. He then finds a kindred spirit in Al, whom he meets in Sweden. The pair go on to have their own humorous adventures, such as growing hipster mustaches and ironic tattoos (but finding out that plant-based eating isn't just for the cool kids), going on a dairy detox and trying out a flexitarian diet. In the final, very meta, episode, the two have an existential crisis when Al finds out he's not a real living entity. The entire series can be seen on the campaign website.
With its sharp and edgy script, the campaign is decidedly not for kids. "The 18+ rating is a warning from Oatly as their campaign is for adults," an Oatly spokesperson said. The media buy directly targets those 18 and above, and the brand has "ensured that any of their billboard and outdoor adverts are appropriate for viewers of all ages."
The series was created by Oatly's in-house creative team together with production company Nexus Studios and director Conor Finnegan, working with puppet maker Andy Gent, known for Wes Anderson’s stop motion movie "Isle of Dogs."
“After trying to help people eat more plant-based with super long Instagram posts, dorky Super Bowl ads, nonsensical headlines and picking on dads in the U.K., we’ve now landed on puppets to do the job," commented Oatly’s creative director, Michael Lee, in a statement. "The cool thing about 'The New Norm & Al Show' is that it lets us deliver a message that people might normally roll their eyes at, but because it’s puppets, well, who doesn’t like puppets? Despite that last sentence, Norm and Al are really just about adding some fuzzy felt, wobbly arms and flappy heads with well-styled wigs to the plant-based movement, and if that all makes it easier for society to grab on to, then yeah, these puppets will be a total success.”
The launch will be supported by Oatly’s largest U.K. digital media buy and is also running on out-of-home. Meanwhile, the campaign will launch across Europe over the next few weeks in markets including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands, as well as Australia.
As part of the campaign, Oatly will give away thousands of sample oat coffees in special "Norm & Al" cups from its branded "Oatly Not Milk Bar" in both Manchester and London and several other coffee shops. Oatly has also partnered with "The Guardian" across print, display and audio channels. There will be an Observer magazine cover wrap and advertorials plus display takeovers, sliding doors and audio 30-second podcast ads.