Oatly's Super Bowl Commercial Didn't Get The Reaction They Were Hoping For

In case you've missed it, the Oatly commercial from Super Bowl LV is up on YouTube. Toni Petersson, Oatly's CEO, is in a field of oats in Sweden, playing on a keyboard. "It's like milk, but made for humans," he belts out, (delightfully?) off-key. "Wow, wow, no cow," he sings, over and over and over again. And over, and over, and over again. (And over, and over again). Does it surprise you that it only took a couple of takes to get the final product? Little wonder that, as per John Schoolcraft, Oatly's chief creative officer, the commercial "cost a fraction of what the catering budget is for almost every other spot in the Super Bowl" (via AdAge). Coors might be trying to get us to collectively dream about its beer, but it's Oatly that will be haunting our sleep for the next couple of months. 

Needless to say, Twitter, expecting Super Bowl advertisement greatness, is enraged. "Oatly's investors include OprahJay-Z, and Natalie Portman. But instead it went with its singing CEO," Axios editor, Dan Primack pointed out, confused. "Having a hard time enjoying this drive bc I'm still mad about the Oatly commercial," spewed stand-up comedian, Sam Morril. "Oatly's going to have a meeting tomorrow," quipped newsman, Tommy McFly (via Twitter). "Pretty sure my personal Oatly consumption is great enough to have funded that terrible commercial," sobbed sports reporter, Olivia Witherite (via Twitter). You get the idea. Oatly, it seems, just spent millions and millions of dollars on 30 seconds of epic failure. Or did it?

Oatly's Super Bowl commercial is actually a rerun

Turns out, Oatly may have intentionally spent millions on a flop. For one, it's completely on-brand for its CEO, Toni Petersson, who, per Time, is responsible for Oatly's "cheeky" re-branding: branding that first made the oat milk so popular in Europe. Now Petersson may be trying the same in America. Literally. 

Oatly's 2021 Super Bowl commercial originally played in Sweden in 2014, per Ad Adage. Which means the company knew exactly what it was in for. Of it, Schoolcraft told the media platform, "It's definitely not your typical Super Bowl commercial with the celebrity or over production." Instead, Oatly went for something that was totally, completely, intentionally, atrociously bad.

In fact, when the same Oatly commercial ran in Sweden, the commercial was banned. Not because Twitter took offense, but because the Swedish cow lobby sued the company for portraying cow's milk as "unhealthy." Oatly CEO Toni Petersson didn't mind. On the contrary, sales went up. My mistake," he told Bloomberg, "Maybe I should have tried it before." Petersson, it seems, has been biding his time carefully to try it again. "It's just the right time right now for us to make a bigger statement to the whole national audience," Schoolcraft explained of the company's decision to air the commercial during Super Bowl LV to AdAge.

This is what Oatly was really going for with its Super Bowl commercial

On Twitter, Ad Adage caught Oatly red-handed in its not-so-sneaky act. Hours before its commercial went on air, the company was giving away t-shirts professing hate for its Super Bowl ad attempt. "The rules of time and space make it impossible to give you back the 30 seconds you just spent watching our Super Bowl commercial," the description on the website says, "but at least we can give you this free t-shirt that lets the world know where you stand on our attempt to promote Toni's singing skills to a wider audience." 

Its ploy paid off. Oatly told Business Insider that the 500 shirts it had in stock were gone in under five minutes. Meanwhile, Oatly's commercial made it into national news, from USA Today (which asks, why are we still talking about it?) to Glamour ("all we can say is...wow"). And Oatly's Instagram? It's blowing up. One fan begged, "Please release the song on Spotify!" Another gushed after seeing the commercial, "My husband and I went to your site and looked for jobs we wanted to be part of that guy's company so bad..hah. so great." A third wrote, "Hey Oatly! I have Tony's singing as my ringtone – which I am deeply happy about." 

Oatly, for its part, is calling the uproar, "a win for the plant-based movement." So, while Oatly t-shirts are currently out of stock, luckily, there's no shortage of commentary about this hilarious ad.