Oatly doesn’t have a marketing department – its creative director thinks they’re stupid – but the plant-based milk company is nonetheless growing fast, expanding out of its native Sweden across Europe and into the US.

Global chief creative officer John Schoolcraft (formerly of DDB Denmark) has a special downer on marketing directors, believing they have “ruined” his best work.

But if there’s no marketing department, there’s no director and no CMO; at Oatly, “it’s creatives at the centre of the business”, he told the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity. (For more, read WARC’s report: Why Oatly is against the marketing department.)

The creative team is involved in pretty much everything bar finance, he said: the sales, distribution and supply processes as well as the marketing process.

The traditional approach fails, he argued, because of the various walls between functions and the sheer amount of briefing that has to be done: there are the commercial priorities with which marketing has to be kept up to speed, and then all of the further cascading priorities that have to be explained and maintained among the full roster of agencies, all with their own idiosyncrasies and quirks.

“But what happens is, to get final approval, you’ve got to pitch the CEO in the corridor in the five minutes you have his time.” The flow of briefs is complex and unceasing; the final word comes from the person most detached from the process.

Oatly prefers “ongoing discussions” between the CEO, various departments – commercial, innovation, customer relations, sustainability – and, importantly, the Oatly Department of Mind Control (the creative department).

Out of these discussions, the ODMC then decides which ideas should move forward into communications strategies and executions.

The company argues that this keeps their energies firmly in those areas where they can best serve the business, rather than in the extreme time-drain of meetings to brief and meetings to approve, leading ultimately to the ruination of people’s best work.

“When you’re not on time sheets and don’t have to invoice, you can do whatever you want,” Schoolcraft said.

Sourced from WARC