Oatly doesn’t like following rules. “It’s not one of our core competencies,” insists its in-house creative director Kevin Lynch. “We realize billboards are supposed to be short and to the point.” So when it came to announcing the oat milk brand’s arrival in New Zealand, it naturally took up two billboards just to get ‘one thing’ across.
Possibly ‘the wordiest, stupidest billboards ever’ (Oatly’s words), the ad goes to great lengths to tell its audience all they need to know about the brand, continuing on to an adjacent billboard when it ran out of room, concluding ‘yes, your initial skepticism was apparently well-founded – that really was more than one thing’.
The lengthy word vomit begins: ‘You’re probably thinking: “One thing? In all these words?” And also: “No Way.” And likely also: “This is just a way to trick me into reading it.” Our compliments to your perceptive-ness. We are, after all, a company that’s hocking oat drink and it’s not like you’ll be convinced to buy some just by seeing an illustration of one of our packages (though we included that as well, just in case it really is that easy).’
Located on 76 Albert Street and 25 College Hill in Auckland CBD, if passers-by stick with it, the billboard actually reveals several hidden messages about Oatly’s launch: ‘At this point, your train of thought has probably moved on to: “Maybe, if I read sideways or backwards or whatnot, I can unlock a secret prize of a million Swedish kronor.” (If you don’t currently have a currency converter on your person, know that a million Swedish krona equals almost 500,000 Malaysian ringgit or over 48 million Comorian francs.)’
It reads on in Oatly’s typical humor: ‘Unfortunately, there’s no such hidden prize. While that may be disappointing news, at least you got to experience the magic of a random oat drink company predicting your thoughts.’
Despite no hidden cash krona prizes, it does in fact feature a link to its sustainability report, which outlines its mission to drive a systemic shift towards a sustainable, resilient food system that empowers people to choose solutions that improve their lives, as well as a giveaway of fifty free oat flat whites a day for anyone who notices the hard-to-miss billboards.
An oat milk with global plans, last year it landed in Singapore having seen potential in the local market for plant-based products. In a similar fashion, it took to out-of-home (OOH) advertising to make its mark.
In fact, clever copy OOH ads are a firm favorite tactic for the cheeky cow milk alternative. Back in 2019, it erected its ‘Ditch Milk’ campaign across the UK.
Prior to that, it ploughed £700,000 into bringing its controversial ad campaign to the UK, after it angered the Swedish dairy industry. It ran with the tagline ‘It’s like milk, but made for humans’.
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