Unveiling Oatly’s Marketing Strategy

Oatly’s print ads in Berlin Mitte

Oatly’s print ads in Berlin Mitte

In 2016, Oatly arrived in Williamsburg, the NY place to be for the hipsters of the hipsters. It didn’t took long until it went out of stock. The cool kids were devastated and even willing to pay twenty dollars for a quart.

Exactly the same happened in the U.K. and Sweden.

So what is this Oatly hype all about?

Oatly has invented the oat drink. The company does oats and oats only. While it started off as a niche player, its range now embraces a variety of oat-based diary products.

Matcha latte. Lemon elderflower OATgurt. Oat spread basil tomato.

Rickard Öste, a food scientist at Lund University Sweden, has founded the company in the 1990s. He has developed a patented enzyme technology to copy nature’s own process and turn fibre rich oats into nutritional liquid food.

Oatly’s mission is to deliver products that have maximum nutritional value and minimal environmental impact.

Until today, the brand is independent.

oatly’y murals in berlin  (   Instagram.com/notesofberlin   )

oatly’y murals in berlin (Instagram.com/notesofberlin)

Market Entry Strategy in Germany

We’re based in Berlin. A city full of energy, life and — recently — oat drink ads. Tons of them. Oatly has taken over the urban landscape and dominates the public discussion. While their media spending is impressive, their ad strategy certainly is out of the box.

The Campaign

Oatly has released outdoor ads only. They are product-focused, clean and provocative. The ads make fun of themselves and joke at the marketing industry: “You actually read this? Total success.” By hijacking the city overnight, Oatly awakes memories of a subversive guerrilla campaign. Its ironic headlines even shed light on the commercialisation of street art culture in Berlin: “We made this ad look like street art so you would like it better than if it was just an ad.”

The Distribution

Oatly is available at supermarkets and organic grocery stores. The brand has also launched its very own Barista Edition, so obsessive Latte artists can showcase their skills. This super foamable oat drink is introduced through local coffee shops in Berlin. On the brand’s website, the official Oatfinder helps every coffee addict to find the closest CappOATcchino.

The Target Group

All ads are in English. They target young and hip urbanists who are into street art and food culture. This target group takes care of its nutrition and appreciates vegan and vegetarian food trends. Conventional marketing non-sense from big brands turns them off and is considered as inauthentic.

Oatly’s out of home posters at Rosenthaler Platz, Berlin

The Ad Strategy

Oatly’s magic lies in its paradoxe value proposition. The brand bridges the gab between selfishness and altruism. Consumers can achieve personal health benefits and still contribute good to the environment. Surprisingly, Oatly’s ad campaign doesn’t celebrate this momentum at all.

No ad addresses the benefits of the products.

Instead, Oatly uses the ad space for a gigantic hack. It makes fun of all the large corporations that run traditional and stale marketing campaigns. The Swedes break with the common rules of the ad worlds. By doing so, they position themselves as an independent funny and sympathetic alternative for diary products. The brand establishes an authentic relationship with the cool kids on the block and a cheeky underdog image.

New York has survived the oat-milk shortage.

Let’s see what happens in Berlin…


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