Cannes Lions

Plant-based Athletes!

PHD GERMANY, Frankfurt / OATLY / 2023

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Case Film






Oatly’s objective is “to make it easy for people to eat better and live healthier lives without recklessly taxing the planet's resources in the process”.

In 2022, our mission was to target this message beyond the traditional ‚nutrition-conscious’ audience and take Oatly’s sustainable message broader.


Our strategic approach to doing this was to MAKE THE SCIENTIFIC ENTERTAINING.

Football itself is a blend of science, entertainment and ‘magic’ so we took the same approach to our campaign.

What that really meant was coming up with a compelling content, not advertising, idea.

The result was a partnership between the Institute for Nutritional Medicine of the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein and SV Babelsberg 03, a semi-professional football club, to create a scientific pilot that we turned into a YouTube documentary.

The footballers provided plenty of content for our broad media strategy, shedding light on vegan nutrition in sports in an entertaining way, without being dogmatic or proselytizing.

Accordingly, our media strategy was geared towards communication across all sales-funnel stages, with a focus on awareness and traffic.

1. Awareness: Use study content to educate and entertain.

2. Traffic: Drive traffic to Oatly's website and YouTube doc for deeper engagement.


Ten Babelsberg players had their athletic performance, nutrition and health measured before and after switching to a plant-based diet, while eight players continued to eat an omnivorous diet as usual and served as a control group.

Through our 8-week documentary, we accompanied the players through all emotional phases of their journey.

To support and promote the documentary series, we created a content special in print, digital and social in the look-and-feel of the sports magazine "11Freunde", distributed the contents of the study over a stretch of three topics.

We placed entertaining teaser trailers in diet and football contexts on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

We created traffic to the website and documentary using native teasers, digital banners, programmatic ads, and paid search. TV spots on Comedy Central and earned media also provided additional reach.

The documentary gained significant earned media interest, reaching beyond national borders.


In December 2022, Oatly's market share reached an all-time high of 25%, narrowing the gap from industry-leader ALPRO from 15% (pre-campaign) to 8% points.

For context, ALPRO's spends 761% more on advertising than Oatly.

The campaign reached 48% of Germans, with the Oatly-Babelsberg study sparking media coverage beyond Germany in Spain, France, Belgium and the UK.

This resulted in a reach of over 200 million in Europe via press coverage.

The campaign also delivered positive brand effects for Oatly:

Awareness: +13%

Consideration: +14%

Love-Brand: +20%

But there’s one result you might be wondering about.

Did the Vegan experiment work for SV Babelsberg?

Well, at the end of the study, the club won the first round of the German Football Cup for the first time in 15 years against the then first division team Greuther-Fürth to move into the 2nd round.

The perfect proof of a vegan diet on performance.

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