The Truth About Oatly's CEO, Toni Petersson

It's probably safe to say that you most likely cringed at the Oatly Super Bowl ad. If you missed it, it featured the CEO of Oatly, Toni Petersson, singing a tune he wrote himself accompanied by his keyboard in a wide-open field of oats. It seems most people felt it was one of those things that's so bad but you just can't look away. Yet, the lyrics, which included, "it's like milk, but made for humans," and "wow, no cow," were surprisingly catchy (via NFL).

One person seemed to summarize the sentiments around the ad with a tweet that said "either they forced the ceo of oatly to do that or he wanted to and neither will make me happy." But there's a lot more that audiences are curious about now than the oat milk. The ad has squarely placed people's general curiosity on the CEO himself. It doesn't take much digging to find out he is as free-spirited as the wind blowing those stalks of oats. 

Though Oatly is a beverage company based in Sweden, Petersson has worked in a wide range of sectors (via LinkedIn). But before his business undertakings, Petersson studied marketing strategy at IHM business school and later received training from the Mercuri International business academy. He also studied finance, marketing, strategy, and management at the Executive Foundation Lund. His experience as a CEO and founder of companies includes the areas of lifestyle, real estate, drink distribution, and even opening a restaurant.

Petersson hit the right notes with Oatly

Petersson's ventures have taken him from Europe to Sweden, though The CEO Magazine also claims he worked in Costa Rica too. While it certainly appears that Petersson likes to jump around rather than stick to one kind of product, there is a secret to his proverbial madness. In an interview with The CEO Magazine, Petersson said, "I don't pursue anything if I don't think I will feel fulfilled. As an entrepreneur, if I ever want to do something, I just do it. I don't feel like I have any other concerns. If I want to start a business, I'll start a business. With Oatly, it was extremely simple. I decided I wanted to work for them, so I did." 

Though it seems Petersson is rather flighty, it was his exact style that was needed to help Oatly succeed. The product was developed in 1994 and had failed on the market until Petersson entered the picture in 2012. He describes the company as "unconventional," but his approach and rebranding of the company paid off. The size of the company actually doubled between 2018 and 2019.

After that Super Bowl ad, it's hard to say whether or not people will be itching to pick up a carton of Oatly at the grocery store. However, the brand will likely stay on their minds for a while thanks to Petersson's song as much as his strategic approach.