As marketers one of our main objectives is to build and maintain brand recognition. Even established brands must maintain their marketing efforts to stay relevant in the minds of consumers. The death of Mr. Peanut is a fabulous example of an established brand engaging with audiences and keeping things fresh.
Mr. peanut made his debut in 1916 and has been the Planters mascot ever since. During the 2020 Super Bowl, Planters ran a commercial in which Mr. Peanut sacrifices himself so that his friends can survive. In the second half of the game, a second Planters commercial aired and continued the story of Mr. Peanut showcasing his funeral service and Groot-like reincarnation.
The Death of Mr. Peanut campaign started with the super bowl ads and quickly spread across media platforms. The video, which is now unlisted, has over 7 million views on YouTube, and 2.3 million views on Planters’ Twitter feed. The ad was soon being featured in CNN stories and had a segment on SNL’s Weekend Update.
The reactions to the death of Mr. Peanut were mixed. Many viewers were intrigued by the tongue and cheek nature of the mascots demise. Others saw the campaign and trending twitter hashtag #RIPPeanut as tone deaf given the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant four days after the release of the campaign.
The killing of Mr. Peanut, while controversial to some, was an excellent example of an established brand staying relevant. Within minutes of the commercial airing, the hashtag #RIPPeanut was flooding news-feeds across the country, bringing Mr. Peanut and his legacy back into peoples’ minds. Although killing off a mascot was a bold and risky move, Planters was able to use this controversy to build its brands recognition and equity.