Oatly’s ‘Help Dad’ campaign comes under fire for ‘mocking alcoholism’

Read Time:   |  20th January 2021

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Oatly is once again under fire after launching its 'Help Dad' campaign which apparently mocks those struggling with Alcoholism.


Swedish Oat milk brand Oatly is facing another backlash, this time in response to its new campaign ‘Help Dad’.

Thousands vowed to boycott the brand after it sold a £150 million stake to notorious Trump supporter and Amazon destroyer Blackstone. However, as we vehemently argued back in September, it is a necessary step towards a more plant-based future.

But has Oatly gone too far with this new ad campaign?

Help Dad

Oatly’s new ‘Help Dad’ campaign and website are designed to help young persuade their parents to give up dairy and switch to oat milk and is filled with recipes, tips, arguments and other resources.

Stated on the website, Oatly explain:

“Whether your Dad just needs some helpful reminders because he already gets that ditching dairy can save the planet loads of carbon emissions… Or, if he needs more of a total reprogramming because he is pretty much good with watching the planet burn so long as he can do it while eating a double cheeseburger. This guide has you covered.”

In a series of four short adverts, Oatly shows teenagers catching their parents sneaking in cows milk, refusing to buy cows milk for them, and watching with judgement while their parent answers ‘no’ to milk in his beverage.

While the adverts come from a place of lighthearted fun and champion young people as the instigators of change, there have been criticisms that they mock alcohol addiction.


Mocking alcohol addiction?

Viewers were quick to criticise the ads, even threatening to boycott the brand for mocking alcohol addiction. They claim the adverts used conversations typically held when speaking to a family member dealing with addiction and mocking them by replacing alcohol with cows milk.

One critic wrote: “I like Oatly but the new ads are really bad. I found them very belittling to people who actually have alcohol addictions or family members that do. Not cool Oatly.”

It is easy to understand where these criticisms come from, as the humourous adverts do appear to replace the word ‘alcohol’ with ‘cows milk’ in difficult conversations. For some viewers, these adverts may hit too close to home.

In defence

The Oatly team defended their campaign, writing: “Our aim with this ad is to show a familiar situation that anyone who’s been a teenager can relate to but with the roles reversed. After all, when it comes to the climate and our diets relation to it, it’s often teenagers that are the grownups in the conversation.

“We don’t believe that by using these father-teenager situations we are undermining the importance of such a serious issue like alcoholism.”

It appears that while the adverts could be construed as distasteful, the campaign aimed to replicate conversations going on in UK households during Veganuary rather than mocking alcoholism.

‘Oatly has struck a nerve’

In stark contrast to the critical view, journalist Stefano Hatfield wrote about how the Oatly campaign actually helped him to finally give in to his daughter’s suggestions of Veganuary.

“It’s rare that an ad campaign actually makes me think, but “Help Dad” from Oatly, the milk alternative, has really struck a nerve.

“The adverts feature children encouraging middle-aged men to give up dairy milk – I’ve had very similar conversations with my offspring in lockdown.”

The reality is that young people are typically more passionate about climate change, animal welfare and enhancing their health, and it is truly up to us to ‘parent’ our elders in these topics.

While Oatly may not have got it exactly right, the message is clear: young people are leading the green revolution, and we need our parents to join the fight.

What do you think: Climate change education in schools: Should it be mandatory?

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