This year, Super Bowl 55 unleashed upon it’s unsuspecting audience, an unrelenting torrent of shockingly terrible ads.
The best commercial this year, in my opinion was the Pringles commercial. It was relatively simple, to the point, showed the product, demonstrated the product, and had a clear call to action i.e. Buy Pringles.
Most of the commercials were annoyingly targeted at middle-aged men; the last surviving demographic who actually watches TV, which is mostly because the only surviving thing on broadcast TV is live sports. Celebrities hawking products is just not my bag, and frankly, that, coupled with the cost of a 30 second Super Bowl spot ($5.5 million) just feels like a huge waste of advertising dollars.
The most talked about commercial was of course: Oatly CEO sings in a field.
If you watched the Super Bowl, you most likely know exactly the commercial I’m talking about. The Oatly commercial was sufficiently confusing and appropriately weird enough to drive people to social media to ask the obvious question: what the heck was that?
Spoiler alert: nobody knows.
In the world of content marketing there is a concept known as VRIN score. VRIN is an acronym meaning Valuable, Rare, Inimitable, and Non-substitutable. When evaluating a piece of content, one must reflect upon whether it passes the VRIN score test. If you can answer ‘Yes’ to these four questions, then you have yourself a pretty good piece of content.
But at the same time, advertising doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to get noticed.
If you only have 30 seconds to get your message across, it better be a damn good message OR be noteworthy to the point that it has people talking about it long after it airs.
There is an entire industry based around noteworthy products (shake weight anyone?). Word of mouth is the best marketing and if you can get people talking about either your strange product or your strange advertisement, then perhaps, in this day and age, you have accomplished your goal.
I was intrigued though, so I decided to do a little digging and it turns out that Oatly’s marketing is actually pretty darn good.
Their website and marketing copy is chock full of personality. Much like with Jimmy John’s and Burger King, they are trying to appeal to a younger, hipper audience. The freelance generation, as I like to think of them. They don’t like corporations and they loathe professionalism. They are the entrepreneurs and independent contractors who are disavowing the world of their baby boom and Gen X parents, and striking out on their own. They are purpose driven and care much more about things like racial equity and agricultural sustainability.
Understanding this, Oatly makes advertisements like this:
Okay, Oatly, you got me. I love the marketing, but I still have one question: Who’s drinking oat milk?
I’ve never really understood the desire for alternative forms of milk. My purview has always been, if you don’t like milk, just don’t drink milk. The insurrection of half my dairy aisle by soy and almond milk products has always seemed confusing to me.
Full disclosure: I don’t really drink milk at all. I have milk once a week with my weekly donut on Sundays, and that’s about it. But cereal still appears to be relatively popular and I know people need to put something in their coffee. At the same time if you’re worried about sustainability or just don’t enjoy the insulinemic spike milk induces, perhaps that explains it.
But clearly oat milk is rising in popularity. According to the fine folks over at SPINS, a research and marketing firm which tracks and promotes sustainable product trends, oat milk has risen in popularity by 294% in specialty retail channels and 345% in mainstream retailers over the past year. Blackrock investment firm just took out a $200 million private investment in Oatly. Oatly’s sales are projected to hit $400 million this year alone, accounting for a triple digit YoY sales growth.
So is it a fad? Is it a trend? Is it here to stay? It’s hard to know. I tend to think of that Lewis Black bit where he explains that almond milk is not milk but rather juice (cause y’know, you can’t milk an almond). So unfortunately I just don’t get the appeal. It appears that oat milk will continue to be a blind spot for me. But clearly someone’s drinking oat milk, otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing these numbers.