Oatly launches first European-wide creative in UK: Are You Stupid?

Oatly, the original Swedish oat drink company, has launched its first European-wide creative campaign to ask one very simple question… Are You Stupid? 

The creative is in response to Amendment 171 (AM 171), which the European Parliament has voted yes to and will next be decided by the EU Council of Ministers. AM171 is calling for heavy restrictions of plant-based dairy, and is supported by the European Dairy Association who are claiming that current packaging and marketing guidelines are ‘misleading’ to consumers. So misleading in fact, that the amendment calls for it to be made illegal for plant-based products to reference dairy in any way. Phrases like “dairy free” or ”creamy” could be banned. Packaging could need to be changed – even climate footprint comparisons comparing the emissions to dairy could no longer be allowed.

Oatly, however, is pretty confident that people across the continent are able to distinguish between entirely different products. But in order to double check, Oatly is asking the public to confirm.

Oatly’s series of digital ads feature the responses of real people, from a study which lasted a week, and included 12 focus groups with people from 17 countries, aged 21-64. After spending 11 hours asking the same question in multiple different ways – guess what? People still could tell the difference between plant-based and dairy products and it wasn’t misleading at all.

Eva, aged 62, from Hungarysaid, “It’s a cow on the package so it’s pretty obvious.”

In fact one focus group person commented how AM 171 would actually make trying to choose plant-based products more difficult;

Daniel, aged 40 from Swedencommented: “They are removing everything that helps the consumer to navigate easier…this does not help the EU goal of consuming more plant-based”

In situations including no light, without reading glasses, and after a tiring and hectic day at work. You guessed it – people could still tell the difference between plant-based and dairy.

The new creative from Oatly highlights the absurdity, and contradictory messages from the EU, which would actually leave consumers more confused when choosing products to buy. 

Wider campaign activity includes physical sampling of alternative Oatly packaging post-171, sponsored ads, and Are You Stupid tests (don’t worry, they’re pretty easy to pass).

Tobias Nordström, head of planning at Oatly, commented: “It’s one thing for us at Oatly to know the impact AM 171 can potentially have on people trying to choose plant-based foods, but we wanted to speak directly to the people who will be affected by this – ordinary people – to understand whether AM 171 is actually in their best interest. It was clear consumers already understand the difference between plant-based and dairy products, and that the restrictions AM 171 threatens to impose will actually make consumer choice more complicated. It’s quite absurd to us, as the Farm To Fork strategy’s mission of increasing plant-based consumption will be heavily compromised should this amendment be passed.”

The UK roll-out of the campaign spans owned, paid digital, social influencers and PR. Oatly has also launched a petition in partnership with Proveg and Upfield to stop AM 171 on the grounds of plant-based censorship and is urging the food industry and public to sign and spread the word. It’s time to stop the plant-based censorship. It’s time to take action.