In one of the strangest, most confusing commercials ever made, the monocle-wearing anthropomorphic peanut, Mr. Peanut, died a fiery death. He was 104 years old.
News outlets leaped onto this bold marketing stunt almost immediately after the commercial, a precursor to Planters’s Super Bowl ad campaign, was posted online. Vancouver Sun wrote an actual obituary for him. Forbes declared it as a symbol of marketing in the age of Twitter.
The official video, inspired by Iron Man’s death in “Avengers: Endgame,” has been viewed over six million times as of January 2020. It features the animated legume on a road trip with Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes. After swerving to avoid hitting an armadillo, they find themselves holding onto a cliffside branch. As they realize that one of them will have to jump to save the others, Mr. Peanut tips his hat one last time and falls into the wreckage of his car, the Nutmobile, and is immediately blown sky-high by an explosion.
Sadly, shortly after the commercial aired and all of Mr. Peanut’s social media accounts were changed to “The Estate of Mr. Peanut” that NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash. Planters shortly halted the commercial, although they announced that they still plan to air a follow-up commercial during the Super Bowl.
Before Bryant’s death, the ad was very well-received, and the company was basking in all of the attention the ad has gotten from news outlets and social media (using the #RIPeanut tag). According to Apex Marketing Group, the coverage comes to $13.7 million in brand value.
Not all reception was positive, however. Forbes discussed how the ad highlighted the ugly side of Brand Twitter, a term describing companies marketing their products and services using humor, memes, insults, and viral trends. Dani Di Placido, who wrote the article, suggested that it’s possible that Mr. Peanut may have been killed in order to introduce a younger mascot that would appeal more to this generation and doesn’t share Mr. Peanut’s “association with greed and hoarded wealth.” After the news about Planters halting the campaign, Forbes again reported on the subject, this time saying that killing off the monocled nut was a bad idea in the first place. A fair amount of social media agrees as well, with many people questioning whether or not it’s still worth it for Planters to market their peanuts this way in the wake of Mr. Bryant’s death.
This marketing stunt has appeared to have backfired horribly. It could’ve been good if not for Bryant’s death, but now it appears that Planters is in a tricky spot.
(Update: Planters aired the follow-up ad during the Super Bowl. The ad features Mr. Peanut being reincarnated as a younger “Baby Nut.” Several news outlets have noted that this younger mascot appears to be in the same vein as Baby Yoda of The Mandalorian. Already many on social media are discussing grinding Baby Nut into a peanut butter snack for Baby Yoda.)
By: Brig Larson
Photo Credits: WCVB Boston