Five Reasons Mr. Peanut's Death Became an Effective Campaign

The shocking news of Mr. Peanut's death at 104 years old shocked many consumers, and Twitter users. The Planters Peanuts campaign struck a chord on social media and gained viral recognition and praise. During a 2020 Super Bowl commercial, the resurrection of Mr. Peanut led to the take-off of #BabyNut. The hashtag had people talking about the mascot for days. How did such a strange campaign manage to resonate with consumers and users of the social media landscape? The savvy use of common public relations and marketing tools is the answer.

1. Paid Media

There is no doubt a campaign of this scale, heavily and strategically, invested in paid media. Mr. Peanut’s death was initially featured in a 30 second TV ad, and his reincarnation was part of a highly anticipated Super Bowl commercial. The initial ad prompted consumers to invest themselves in the campaign, interact with the brand, as well as purchase novelty and everyday products. On Twitter, Planters promoted tweets and hashtags to help encourage and sustain a conversation about the campaign. Through using these two paid mediums, the campaign was able to target a wide range of demographics and spark increased brand interest.

2. Earned media

Through paid media, the brand was able to acquire an outpouring of earned media. Twitter users discussed the Mr. Peanut debacle for weeks. Many news outlets: The Washington Post, Forbes, Chicago Sun-Times, and Business Insider, even covered the campaign. From the hashtags, Twitter conversations, and news coverage, word-of-mouth also became a significant type of earned media. Average consumers discussed the campaign with their family and friends, creating a presence for the campaign beyond the internet.

3. Brand recognition

Mr. Peanut, an icon of American snack foods, is practically a household name. In 1916, the nut made his debut as the mascot for the Planters Peanut Company. Taking advantage of the extensive track record and brand recognition associated with Mr. Peanut, the brand was able to engage consumers and capitalize on their nostalgia. Using the recognizable celebrity faces of Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh in the initial commercial also aided to boost interest.

4. Crisis management

Public relations specialists also managed to navigate Kobe Bryant’s death in a way that kept the campaign afloat, while minimizing backlash. The commercials associated with the campaign were briefly suspended, and heavy promotional content on Twitter also temporarily subsided. However, the Super Bowl commercial still went as planned and revitalized discussions about the brand. In this case, proper precautions taken by professionals allowed the campaign to avoid unnecessary controversy and what could have been an ugly demise.

5. Twitter’s brand culture

The campaign also capitalized on Twitter’s rich brand culture. After the initial commercial's airing, the Planters Peanuts Twitter page became The Estate of Mr. Peanut, with an accompanying graphic memorializing the peanut. The tweets and content on the page became very humorous, and other fast food and packaged good brands responded to the campaign, further boosting its reach. This provided a good foundation for the campaign to become a viral hit.

Creating a successful campaign that effectively integrates many mediums and connects with different demographics is key in today’s media landscape. Doing this requires strategic planning that takes advantage of platform opportunities and capitalizes on a brand’s assets. Mr. Peanut’s death and rebirth is one campaign that helps public relations and marketing professionals understand what an effective, engaging campaign looks like.

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