breaking the rules can pay off

Breaking the Rules the Right [BLEEPING] Way!

Every once in a while I come across an ad so original it stops me in my tracks. It might be an arresting visual, an intriguing headline or a big idea that makes me go “hmm”. But most of the time it’s about breaking the rules.

My first impression when I saw the ad below: holy sh*t, what have they done!?

This ad, found on the highly respected “The Week” news publication, for Oatly Oatmilk caught my attention for its blatant disregard for…well, everything.

What’s Wrong:

  • The headline uses a swear word.
  • The headline delivers no feature or benefit.
  • That same headline denigrates their product.
  • The first paragraph is dedicated to why people already dislike the product.
  • There’s only a single line dedicated to why you might want to buy the product.
  • The product name is nowhere in the copy.
  • There’s no website, address or logo.
  • Where’s that call to action hiding?

It should be a sh*t show of an ad. It ignores so many basic rules of everyday advertising. And yet…it’s a pretty damn good ad.

Why It Works

Marketing and advertising are professions with well-trod paths are poured over in perpetuity. This is a feature not a bug. They’re well trod because they work; do what has always worked and your advertising will most likely work.

This intellectual one-off-ism can be ideal for those new to the profession or those wishing to play it safe. But this derivative thinking is how brands stagnate and good creative gets resigned to the dark recesses of the mind.

The ad ignores the basic rules of advertising (don’t swear, do say good things about your product) to grab your attention. Then it bring the primary barrier to sale to the front of the conversation. Instead of telling you what to think, the ad treats you like an adult and challenges you to make up your own mind.

This kind of rule breaking approach could have easily gone off the rails. But in this case, it beautifully threads the needle, doing it all wrong to get the message just right.

As Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”