Oatly in Otley
A charming and confusing journey to West Yorkshire
The Annual Otley Show, held in Otley, a charming market town in West Yorkshire, is a historic event dating back to 1796 and is believed to be the longest-running single-day agricultural event in the UK.
We knew absolutely none of this when Jimmy—a member of the Oatly team—first pitched us on sending an Oatly representative to the 211th Otley Show. In fact, after making the pitch to attend “Otley Fest” himself, it became apparent that Jimmy had done very little research and had no understanding of the show’s historical significance.
(Jimmy is, in fact, a real person, but we’re using a pseudonym partly because we’re sort of making fun of him in the previous few sentences, but also because, in the event that our excursion to the Otley Show is met with backlash, we don’t want Jimmy to become the recipient of endless internet harassment.)
We approved Jimmy’s trip for two very solid reasons. First, it seemed that no other oat drink company had ever attended the Otley Show in its 200-year history, thus making our trip a “first to market opportunity”, which is a highly coveted type of opportunity in the world of business. But second, Jimmy had a very astute theory: “Maybe the people most likely to love Oatly are people who already love Otley”.
(Theories that start with the word maybe are usually the least thought-out type of theory, but because Jimmy proposed a budget that was equivalent to the cost of a used three-speed bicycle, we said “f*ck it”.)
“He then awkwardly pulled a carton of Oat Drink from his shady satchel and asked people if they’d be willing to try it."
So Jimmy attended the Otley Show with a cameraman and tried to make as many friends as humanly possible. He then awkwardly pulled a carton of oat drink from his shady satchel and asked people if they’d be willing to try it. Along the way, he met some incredible folks—as one does when in West Yorkshire—including the mayor of Otley, an unbelievably generous pub owner, and an elderly gentleman who insists we’re pronouncing the name of our company wrong.
Jimmy’s initial theory—people who already love Otley are most likely to love Oatly—proved correct. Though, in hindsight, we suspect the people of Otley enjoyed our delicious oat drink completely independent of our shared name.