Brand launches YouTube channel starring CEO and his synth

Oatly, the oat drink alternative to cow’s milk, has launched a new YouTube channel featuring a series of films starring its reluctant CEO. Toni TV is a series of films depicting the life and times of CEO Toni Petersson as he attempts to explain why people should try Oatly’s products. The series currently includes more than 20 episodes, and much of the footage was filmed without Toni’s knowledge, when he didn’t know the cameras were rolling.

In what might just be a world first from a CEO, the video shows Toni singing a heartfelt paean to the power of oats: Wow No Cow. The (few) lyrics to the song convey a simple and singular story that sums up everything Oatly is about: Oatly is like milk, but it’s made for humans. It’s light-hearted but conveys a thoughtful environmental message: that life beyond the cow is possible.

It’s a message that has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years – from both the animal welfare and environmental lobbies. Flexitarian lifestyles are on the increase and are set to rise 10% by 2016[1], with the likes of megastars Beyonce and Jay-Z famously going vegan for January, and #meatfreemondays taking social media by storm.  

A message the Swedish milk industry doesn’t want you to hear

It’s a trend that hasn’t gone unnoticed.  In its homeland of Sweden, Oatly is being sued by the Swedish Dairy Association, accused of making milk seem ‘unmodern’.  In an unprecedented step, the brand has made the full 172 page summons, as well as their response, available to read on its website, allowing people to make their own minds up.  This reflects the brand’s commitment to total transparency, as evidenced by the fact that consumers can also go to the site to see where every ingredient in Oatly products is sourced.


About the films

So did the brand’s creative director and ad agency – the multi-award winning Forsman & & Bodenfors, who created the legendary Volvo trucks Epic Split ad – set out to trick their CEO?  Not really. They just felt it was important for the viewer to get an honest idea of who the real Toni is and how Oatly — thanks to his new, off beat, dynamic and visionary leadership — is becoming a lifestyle brand that makes nutritional products to help people find ways to upgrade their lives and the health of the planet too.

Toni commented, “Against my better judgment I agreed to be featured in a series of films. At first I was really concerned that the ideas were bad, that I was bad and that all the commercials I had ever seen featuring CEOs were terrible. For me, it made more sense to spend time and money developing a strong idea that would explain to viewers how everyone at Oatly goes to work every day to improve people’s lives and the health of the planet. For some reason my creative director and agency thought I should sing this instead. I guess time will tell if I was right or if they were.”

On the Wow No Cow anthem, he continues, “When they first told me they wanted me to sing a song in an oat field I seriously thought they were kidding. How could that ever work to tell our story? I didn’t originally have time to write a song so they wrote one for me and I really hated it — don’t they think I have any creative integrity? So I wrote something I felt I could put my name on and then went out in the middle of the oat field with a synth from the 80s and tried to play it.”

The video forms part of a Europe-wide seeding campaign of a series of films that will see Toni take his Wow No Cow message to a wider online audience. The series is deliberately low-fi, focusing on the CEO speaking honestly. The films also feature Toni’s mum, who stops by to help do a spot of cooking. It represents a further departure from the brand’s previous, more staid, incarnation, a move which was kicked off with a complete re-brand earlier this year.

The first film can be viewed here: