Oat milk activism, sexist government ads, the Gamestop fiasco

Authors: Ayesha Hussain, Kate Savin, Liam Clifford
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: February 2, 2021

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the one to watch, and the one to read in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting oat milk activism, sexist government ads, and the Gamestop fiasco.

| NAILED IT: Oatly pits warm audiences against cold

The alternative milk company Oatly is making a splash with their new marketing campaign, Help Dad. Aimed squarely at the brand’s core audience (young environmental types), the campaign seeks to start conversations between children and parents about the benefits of ditching dairy.

The campaign has immediately come under fire for being sexist, ageist, and misleading in its use of dairy industry emission statistics. But whilst these complaints are arguably valid, the marketing tactic deserves recognition in its own right. 

What better way to seek out your hardest-to-reach audience than through their kids? Help Dad flips the standard parent-child relationship on its head, giving teens the facts, arguments, and recipes they need to convince otherwise disinterested parents. Knowing its audience, Oatly has positioned their advertising as a social impact campaign designed to save the environment, rather than as a profit-seeking manoeuvre. Naturally, then, it has landed with its target audience (us), and made others’ blood boil.  

By harnessing the activism wave that has transformed a generation of millennials into militants, Oatly is hoping to get noticed by the generation that their branding excludes – even if it incurs their wrath. Whilst it’s not perfect, it is bold, which is exactly what good activism should be.

Check out the website and resource pack here

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: UK government withdraws sexist advert 

The Government’s latest social media adverts have quite rightly received backlash for their reductive portrayal of women, leaving many wondering: How on earth was this signed off in 2021? 

The social media infographics were created to encourage households to stay at home to save lives in order to avoid the new COVID-19 variant spreading. The scenes depicted in the graphic show women cleaning, ironing and teaching children, while the only man appears to be lounging on the sofa with his family. 

The Government has responded to the backlash insisting that the ad does “not reflect” its “view on women”, however in a pandemic that has already led to the worsening of gender equality in the workplace, our government should instead be prioritising  achieving gender equality to undo the regressions the pandemic has caused.

Reports have shown that more women have lost their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19 than men due to the growing need for unpaid childcare for children -roles that have been largely taken on by women. With this in mind, it’s disappointing to see the Government reinforce outdated ideas of gender roles in these careless ads. Instead, the Government should be actively thinking about how we can address the imbalances in the workforce exacerbated by the pandemic before the gap widens even further. 

| ONE TO WATCH:  What we can learn from the Gamestop fiasco

This week, the world is watching with interest (and more than a little bemusement) as the stock market is shaken by an unlikely cause: struggling US retailer Gamestop. 

In short, small stock traders, mobilised mostly on Reddit, began pushing the price of its stock up dramatically as they sought to stop predatory hedge funds and investment firms from ‘shorting’ it for profit — and costing them billions in the process.

Since then, the action has moved far beyond message boards and small investors everywhere have started lending their dollars to the cause, driving the stock up by nearly 1,000% to keep the momentum going. Many agree that they are taking part largely to make a clear statement: that people are sick of watching billionaires profit from the downfall of businesses while the poor get even poorer.

What’s most interesting from a social impact perspective, though, is not the outcome but what lies at its core: a huge, spontaneous community movement. In a short space of time, vast numbers of people discovered the issue, educated themselves and were galvanised into taking action, eagerly seeking out how they could play their part. What could be achieved if we recreated this moment for other causes?

We should pay close attention to how we got here, and the impact that the right media coverage and sheer momentum can have for any social movement — transforming it from the fringe into international news. Keep watching this space.