Oatly Toni Petersson playing a keyboard in an oat field

Super Bowl ads can either be really cool, or absolutely trash. There’s no middle ground. This is only further emphasized after watching tonight’s Super Bowl ad for oat milk brand Oatly. It was a commercial that riled up quite a few viewers of tonight’s big game, but was it all part of the plan? Let’s talk this out, and see if we can find an answer together.

If you haven’t seen it for yourself, you really do need to see the commercial that Oatly put together, and then take a moment to take in its uncool salesmanship. To set up the pitch, the ad consists of Oatly CEO Toni Petersson singing a song to promote the virtues of his brand of dairy substitute. As one might predict, it’s set in an oat field, and he's seated at a keyboard singing about how there’s “no cow” involved in the production of the drink. But words cannot capture the true awfulness of this advertisement, which you can see below:

Take a moment. Collect yourself, and watch the really cool teaser for M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Old; or maybe the new trailer for F9. Hell, jump into the Wayne’s World ad for UberEats while you’re at it. You’ve truly earned it after watching that ridiculous musical travesty that passes for an ad, which really does stretch the limits of human patience. Though, there’s a bit of a catch when it comes to whether or not that Oatly commercial was an unfortunate misfire, or a token sacrifice at the alter of commerce.

It’s certainly been a night where unexpected sources have put ads into the world. There have been interesting ads for brands like Dr. Squatch, Rocket Mortgage, and Jeep, which have filled the spots where the usual phalanx of movie trailers would occupy during a business-as-usual Super Bowl. But that Oatly ad feels like it was created to be as bad as it was on purpose, as the milk substitute brand has been found to be selling the following shirt right after the spot had aired:

With the market for oat milk being flooded by competitors like Silk’s Oat Yeah, Califia Farms’ various oat based flavors, and not to mention the entire family of Planet Oat products that include a delicious brand of milk and creamers, Oatly needs to maintain its reputation. So taking the L, and whiffing a Super Bowl ad almost sounds like the perfect plan to gain some market share against the new kids. Especially when you produce the shirts to proclaim your ad was dumb in the first place, and sell out of those free goodies at a pretty fast pace.

The kicker that seals this conspiracy deal is the fact that this Oatly ad isn’t even a new commercial! If you look at Oatly's “Toni TV” series of videos, there's a very similar ad that was run back in 2017. So Oatly probably bought tonight’s slot at the Super Bowl for a song, with an ad that probably cost nothing to write or create, with intentionally crazy content… all to get people to buy their oatmilk. Honestly, after the year that was 2020, and the game that’s been played tonight, the fact that Oatly played us all like consumer fiddles doesn’t suck as much as it might on another night. Well played, Toni. Well played; and please let us know if any more of those shirts happen to find their way onto the market.

Was tonight's Oatly ad bad on purpose?
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