Where harsh truths about Big Dairy come with a cup of Oatly Soft Serve

What’s the reasonable amount of time it should take to deprogram hundreds of people who have been subjected to decades of dairy propaganda perpetrated by an industry that spends billions of dollars obscuring facts about its products’ impact on the climate crisis?

Oatly figured a weekday afternoon in Washington, D.C., should do the trick.*

When presented with the opportunity to crash the Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party - the annual celebration put on by the International Dairy Foods Association as a thank-you to everyone it has under its control - we couldn’t wait to take the bait.

As proof, we designed our very own “Dairy Deprogramming” soft serve truck and plopped a huge inflatable ice cream cone on top of it. Then we parked the truck across the street from the party, positioning it in the foreground of the Capitol Building (amazing photo op). But the cherry on top was the undercover Oatly person we dressed up in a $40 suit and sent in to the party to coerce dairy defectors into following him to a designated “safe zone” and dairy-free freedom.

On the surface, it might’ve seemed like some big stunt to troll Big Dairy. And that’s true - it was definitely some big stunt to troll Big Dairy. But it also gave Oatly a national stage to expose a number of dark truths Big Dairy loves to hide.

Like the shocking fact that a whopping 144 gallons of water is used to produce one gallon of cow’s milk. Or that in the United States, Oatly Original Oatmilk has about half the climate impact of comparable cow’s milk. We plastered the truck with lawyer-approved statistics that emphasized the dairy industry’s lack of transparency about the climate impact of its products. And when passersby stood there in a daze - overwhelmed by how easy it would be to reduce their climate footprints if they moved away from dairy (and meat) - we handed them cups of soft serve as a reward for paying attention.

Because in each spoonful of Oatly Soft Serve exists a glimmer of hope.

In the end, we were successful in our deprogramming efforts, inspiring eloquent sound bites from converts like “It’s good to be deprogrammed” and “Yeah, it feels nice.” And though we overcame stiff resistance from interns doing the bidding of dairy overlords and lobbyists, we want to assure those interns of something: We know that one Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party is not indicative of Big Dairy’s immense deep-state power and control. So next time - and there will be a next time - we’ll come even more prepared.

We now need to rescue the interns. The interns need our help.