We Swapped Dairy for Oatly at a Diner in Louisiana

In the process, we might have uncovered the company’s newest sales strategy.

How do you convince people to try Oatly? By shipping large quantities of oat-based products to an unsuspecting diner in the American South and telling a down-for-anything chef to swap dairy for Oatly in his most popular dishes.

We executed this plan on a recent trip to Lee’s Drive-In in Hammond, Louisiana--the only Southern diner that would allow us to edit its menu--where we made crawfish fettuccine, jambalaya, French toast, and milkshakes using Oatly.

The result: dozens of people asking us why we were there. But also, dozens more telling us how delicious our oat stuff was.

Whether they were just exhibiting Southern hospitality or blatantly lying, we were struck by how receptive everyone was to our never-before-tested recipes. Jambalaya wasn’t even on our radar until the trip to Lee’s--proof that leaving your Nordic bubble is a worthwhile effort.

However, the trip went from successful to revelatory after we asked folks how we might better convince others to try Oatly.

One woman--whom, for the purposes of this story, we’ll call Sally (this isn’t an anonymity thing; we genuinely forgot her name)--gave an answer that will forever echo through the halls of Oatly.

“Tell people it’s not hummus.”

Oatly puts a lot of thought and resources into its marketing efforts. For the past decade, we’ve hired really smart advertising people with really “prestigious” awards on their résumés and told them to make billboards and commercials about oats. The result has often been catchy slogans and ad campaigns that either (1) sell more Oatly or (2) get us sued. But in all these years, no slogan, strategy, or campaign has come close to “It’s not hummus.”

Sally, if you’re reading this, please give us a call. The marketing team could use a mind like yours.

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