Product / ServiceOATLY
CategoryF03. Single Market Campaign
Additional Company OATLY Hong Kong, HONG KONG SAR


Name Company Position
Annouchka Behrmann Edelman Hong Kong Head of Brand
Joyce Lai Edelman Hong Kong Senior Manager
Gary Lai Edelman Hong Kong Senior Executive

Why is this work relevant for PR?

‘The New Word’ is an earned creative idea informed by a clear insight with measurable impact. Oatly wanted to lead the debate around plant-based milk vs dairy in Hong Kong, with high lactose intolerance and increasing dairy consumption. We spotted there wasn’t a Chinese word for the category – so how could people understand it, talk about it or even find it? Our idea was to create a brand-new Cantonese word ‘𫇵’ to kick-start the conversation, help consumers discuss the benefits and find product in store. The PR-led integrated campaign achieved an immediate 44% increase in supermarket sales.


Oatly, the Swedish oat-milk challenger brand wants to make the world a better place. Oatly passionately believes that shifting from dairy to a plant-based diet is better for our bodies and for the planet, and the brand is set on driving behavioral change worldwide. Oatly was launching in Hong Kong where 90% of the native population is lactose intolerant, but awareness of the benefits of plant-based milk was low and worryingly, dairy consumption was increasing. Oatly gave us an ambitious brief to challenge the status quo: a PR campaign to help them drive change, lead the debate around plant-based vs dairy milk in Hong Kong, raise awareness of the category and persuade the public to try plant-based milk. OBJECTIVES • Drive awareness of plant-based milk among mass population • Drive trial of Oatly

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

Our research showed a very strong association between milk and cows in Hong Kong - 98% adults say cows are the first thing they think of when they hear the word milk**. We wanted people to talk about alternatives and try Oatly but we realized that there wasn’t a word for plant-based milk in the local language Cantonese. How could people discuss plant-based milk when there is no word for it, or find it in the supermarket when there is no word for the category? Our PR idea was to add a new word for plant-based milk to the 2000-year old Cantonese language, a Swedish brand challenging traditional Chinese culture to attract attention and build awareness of the issue. We took the character for milk and combined it with the character for plant to create ‘The New Word’ for the plant-based milk category - 𫇵 (pronounced Naii).

Describe the strategy (30% of vote)

We set out to lead a category-level debate with “The New Word”, drive mass public engagement and trial. There were five critical ingredients: 1) Evidence for an urgent call for action: we commissioned new independent Hong Kong research to look at the scale of the issue, the lack of awareness and understanding about plant-based milk, and the public appetite for more information 2) The debate to come from the top: we requested Oatly’s Sweden-based CEO come to Hong Kong to launch the campaign 3) Endorsement from a credible third-party: which we secured from influential green NGO Green Monday 4) The debate to feel global: local media was important to reach our audience but we also deliberately targeted international media outlets for Hong Kong people to believe this is a worldwide and not only local issue 5) Activity must trigger reaction or response: we applied this filter to all executions

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

We launched the New Word with hard-hitting news that only 12% people understand the benefits of plant-based milk, a call to action on Government to define plant-based milk and endorsement from the CEO of Green Monday, securing top-tier media outlets including Bloomberg, CNN, and South China Morning Post. We gained momentum sharing the New Word across social media and high-profile manifesto advertising. Our campaign continued to travel via micro-influencers and green leaders, and we took the New Word to live events where the public could join in the debate. Finally we persuaded retailers to permit usage of the New Word at point of sale, helping consumers identify the category and Oatly itself. The campaign ran initially through April 2019. Oatly continues to use the New Word in all marketing and in-store activity, and the campaign continues to generate media coverage and conversation.

List the results (30% of vote) – must include at least two of the following tiers:

The New Word campaign has been very successful. Oatly led the category debate for change with a new word that has piqued public interest. Media helped drive mass awareness, people have engaged with the New Word, retailers have agreed its use at point of sale, and trial has increased. Tier 1 - Outputs • 465+ media articles, 100% positive tone with 135M Impressions • The story was widely covered in mainstream local media and spread internationally in China, Taiwan, US, Europe and even Africa Tier 2 – Target Audience Outcomes • 100% increase in social media conversation for Oatly in the 2-week period following launch; conversation has since settled at a higher base Q2 vs Q1 2019 • Discussion seen on online language, sustainable living and health and wellness platforms • Major retailers Wellcome, ParknShop and 7-11 have permitted use of the New Word at point of sale – it can now be seen across 850 stores in Hong Kong • Environmental groups have advocated the campaign including Green Monday, Vegans Hong Kong and the Green Queen Tier 3 - Business Outcomes • 44% increase in month-on-month supermarket sales; 14% sales increase across all sales channels in Q2 vs Q1 • Green Common has used the New Word to designate its category plant-based milk aisle across its physical and online stores • Oatly has been able to open premium sales channels including listings in two five-star hotel chains and at the Sanatorium Hospital

Please tell us how you designed/adapted your campaign for the single country / region / market where it aired.

Challenger-brand Oatly was launching in Hong Kong, a market where dairy consumption is increasing despite high levels of lactose intolerance in the native population, and a market where the public visually associate milk with cows. Oatly wanted to start a debate about the benefits of plant-milk, but there was no word for the category, so how could you talk about it? Our creative idea - to create a new character for plant-based milk in the local language Cantonese – is purposefully designed to reach Hong Kong people, a Swedish brand disrupting their 2000-year-old language to attract attention and stimulate conversation. A key part of our media strategy was to target international media outlets alongside local media for Hong Kong people to believe this is a worldwide and not only local issue. Oatly’s campaign benefits the category, but ultimately the real beneficiaries are Hong Kong people and the planet.