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Oat milk company Oatly calls out dairy brands in fiery new ad: 'The ultimate goal ... is to advocate for transparency'

"We thought a first call to the dairy industry to join us in publishing product climate footprints made natural sense."

Oatly Oat milk company

Photo Credit: Getty Images

In early May, oat milk company Oatly ran an ad in some of the nation's biggest newspapers challenging dairy companies to match its transparency about how its products impact the environment, as Adweek and other outlets reported.

Like many companies providing plant-based alternatives to popular foods, Oatly hopes to have a positive effect on the environment. Compared to cow's milk, oat milk creates 44% to 76% less pollution in each region where it's sold, the company claims. It has also pledged to reduce that impact by another 70% by 2029, Sustainable Brands reported.

Oatly wants its customers to know about the work it's doing. And to show it, the company has recently added new labels to some of its product packaging, each of which revealing how much that particular food item impacts the Earth's temperature. 

The company says that these figures were calculated using a trusted third-party tool and factor in every step of production, from growing ingredients to packing and shipping the products. The total amount is shown in "carbon dioxide equivalents" or CO2e, which is the amount of carbon dioxide it would take to warm the Earth by that same amount.

Now the company wants to let the public know about this new labeling — while pushing its competitors to answer the same questions. To do that, Oatly took out large two-page ads in the New York Times, LA Times, and The Washington Post, as well as similar ads on billboards in Times Square and Hollywood, Sustainable Brands reported.

The left side of the ad features an Oatly carton with the new label in the bottom right and an announcement that the company has begun including climate impact information on its products. The right side features a blank milk jug. 

"And we're donating this page to the dairy industry so they can tell you their climate footprint numbers too," reads the ad.

At the bottom of the ad is a QR code that companies can scan to apply. Any company that wants to claim the ad space will have to visit OatlyClimateFootprintChallenge.com and answer "just 68 easy questions" and write "4 short-form essays" about its impact on the environment. Oatly promises that if any company does, it'll pay for that company's full-page ad.

"The ultimate goal of the campaign is to advocate for transparency on the impact products have on the planet, so consumers can make more informed purchases," Armando Turco, executive creative director for Oatly in North America, told Sustainable Brands

"It only really works for consumers if other companies follow suit," said Turco, "so we're encouraging other companies to do just that. We thought a first call to the dairy industry to join us in publishing product climate footprints made natural sense."

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