Mr. Peanut

Picture of Tom Dougherty

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

29 January 2020

Mr. Peanut is dead (maybe), but who’s the joke on?

Mr. Peanut is dead. 

Planters thought up the nutty idea (pun intended) to kill off Mr. Peanut just in time for the Super Bowl. The first ad, airing last week, shows Wesley Snipes, Matt Walsh and Mr. Peanut dangling precariously from a branch on the side of a cliff only to have the Planters icon sacrifice himself so the other two could live.

The ad is bizarre in and of itself. 

“The commercial isn’t the joke. The people who engage with the brand are. Mr. Peanut will be back and Planters ‘killed him off’ for a short term bump in social media buzz. How many people are actually going out to buy Planters products because it (maybe) killed him off?”

Planters has purchased two ads for the Super Bowl, one before the game and one during that will supposedly be Mr. Peanut’s funeral. 

Then what, Planters?

Do the Super Bowl ads suggest a comedic resurrection for Mr. Peanut? Do we get introduced to a new one, like a child no one knew about? Or, is he really dead?

I can’t believe that Planters would kill off their 104 year old culture icon, as if it wasn’t working anymore. There are few brand equities that have lasted that long. So you know Planters has to be planning for him to come back, somehow. 

Mr. Peanut ads make consumers the joke

And there is the rub. The consumer is made out to be a joke. Planters is saying to itself, “This will be great. We will get so much social media buzz and engagement for the week up to the Super Bowl, mourning the loss of Mr. Peanut and then we will bring him back during the game!”

Mr. PeanutThe commercial isn’t the joke. The people who engage with the brand are. Mr. Peanut will be back and Planters “killed him off” for a short term bump in social media buzz. How many people are actually going out to buy Planters products because it (maybe) killed him off?

What’s more, and there is absolutely no way Planters could have known this, but it seems a bit ghoulish with the sudden tragic death of Kobe Bryant. In fact, Planters has paused the ads leading up to the Super Bowl because of Bryant’s death.

Good move, but they’ll be back for the big game.

In any case, this campaign once again demonstrates that much of advertising today is not about persuasion. It is actually becoming akin to reality TV, all shock and awe and no substance. Advertising should be entertaining. But when the joke is on the consumer, it persuades nobody.

See more posts in the following related categories: Super Bowl Commercials

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