Super Bowl commercials are always an exciting part of the year's biggest football game — but one advertisement from alternative milk company Oatly has social media buzzing.
The 30-second ad shows the Swedish company's CEO, Toni Petersson, sitting at a keyboard in the middle of a field of grain. While many other ads featured famous celebrities or big-name athletes, Petersson was the only person in the Oatly commercial, enthusiastically jamming out to the brand's jingle celebrating the alternative dairy product. According to Oatly, Petersson wrote the music and lyrics himself.
For many, the advertisement was brand-new, but it actually has a long and storied history: It was first produced and aired in Sweden in 2014. Shortly after it aired, the brand was sued by the country's "milk lobby" over the opening line "It's like milk, but made for humans." Since then, the company has been "legally forbidden" from airing the ad in Sweden.
On social media, many seized on the ad, joking that it was the "worst part of the Super Bowl" and an accurate representation of our "collective mental state."
Some said that the ad was enough to make them avoid Oatly products forever.
However, the 30-second spot also had its share of fans. Some wanted even more performances from Petersson, while others joked that it was their new favorite song and deserved a wider platform.
John Schoolcraft, the brand's global chief creative officer, said that while the ad may have seemed like "the stupidest use of Super Bowl ad space ever," he and the brand are proud of it.
"100 million people watched Toni, our CEO, play his 80s keyboard in the middle of an oat field and sing about how oatmilk is like milk, but made for humans," Schoolcraft said in an emailed statement. "If a fraction of those people start to wonder what oatmilk actually tastes like, or how much better for the planet than cow's milk, it'll have been worth it."
It seems like the brand expected the divisive response: Twitter users noted that the brand had been giving away a limited number of free "I totally hated that Oatly commercial" t-shirts, and the company's website had a statement about the ad.
"Yeah, that was really our CEO singing on the Super Bowl," read a statement that one user screenshotted; as of Monday afternoon, the statement was still available. "Maybe interrupting the second quarter so the world could experience Toni’s musical stylings about how oatmilk is like milk but made for humans wasn’t the most Super Bowl-ish idea ever, but on the other hand, our attempt to promote Toni’s singing skills to a wider audience actually got you to visit an oatmilk company website on the big day. Total success!"