Despite creating a Super Bowl advertisement that has been ripped apart by critics, vegan dairy product maker Oatly’s investment may have actually been money well spent.
The Sweden-based company is reportedly eyeing a $10 billion valuation for an initial public offering that could come as early as May. That is a far cry from the $2 billion that the Wall Street Journal reported the company was worth back in July.
Sources told Bloomberg about the rise in numbers and that discussions are continuing regarding the size and timing of the listing on the New York Stock Exchange. While Oatly has mulled a listing in Hong Kong, after its Super Bowl splash, the focus now appears to on moving ahead with only a U.S. listing. An Oatly spokesperson declined to comment.
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Oatly’s 30-second Super Bowl ad featured the company’s CEO Toni Peterson playing a keyboard and singing in an oat field about the company’s milk.
“It’s like milk, but made for humans,” Peterson belted.”Wow, now cow!”
According to Ad Age, Oatly’s commercial was made back in 2014 and banned in Sweden after facing a lawsuit from the Swedish dairy lobby. A 15-second version of the commercial has been posted on Oatly’s YouTube channel since 2017. Variety reported that a 30-second ad for Super Bowl LV cost about $5.5 million.
“No choreography, music licensing, famous actors — possibly even no director. This year’s jankiest ad came from Oatly, a company that is very good at making oat milk and very bad at making commercials,” the Washington Post wrote. “Uncomfortably awkward “Napoleon Dynamite” vibes abound.”
Slate’s Justin Peters said the ad earned the “What the Hell Was That?” award for 2021.
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“This ad smacked of the sort of inauthentic weirdness that just ends up reading as smug,” Peters wrote. “While I enjoy Oatly’s products, I confess to not getting or liking the company’s schtick of producing ads that very self-consciously and deliberately choose to waste the space that they’ve purchased.”
Likewise, the ad faced similar pushback on social media, with one user suggesting the ad was “made bad on purpose so people would talk about them.”
Oatly, which called the backlash a ‘popular opinion’, capitalized on the moment by selling t-shirts that read “I totally hated that Oatly commercial.” According to the company, the shirts are now sold out.
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However, some users came to the commercial’s defense, like musician QuestLove, who said Oatly’s spot “won” with an “inescapable song.” Others users said it was their “favorite commercial so far” and thought the jingle was “kinda nice [to be honest].”
“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,” Oatly said in a statement on its website. “Total success!”
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Oatly AB was founded back in the 1990s by brothers Rickard and Bjorn Oste. Using patented enzyme technology based on Swedish research from Lund University, the company turns fiber rich oats into nutritional liquid food.
The company’s popularity comes as plant-based alternatives to traditional meat and dairy products have pushed their way into the mainstream. Both Starbucks and Dunkin’ announced last year that they would add oat milk to their menus. Starbucks also announced a deal with Oatly to introduce its products in markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Taiwan and Thailand.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Oatly AB sold a $200 million stake in July to Blackstone Group, a private equity firm headed by Trump donor Stephen Schwartzman. The investment is also reportedly backed by Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, former Starbucks Corp. Chief Howard Schultz and the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z.
Oatly’s potential IPO plans come amid a similar effort by rival Chobani. The yogurt company is reportedly eyeing an initial public offering later this year that it hopes could value the Norwich, N.Y., company at as much as $7 billion to $10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
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