Surely one of the strangest pieces of marketing tied to the Super Bowl this year has been the prolonged tease of Mr. Peanut’s death. You read that right. Planters put together a marketing campaign in which Mr. Peanut sacrificed himself so his friends—played by Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh—could live, in a video released last Tuesday. Watch it below:
The plan was that Mr. Peanut’s funeral would be broadcast in a Super Bowl commercial during the third quarter of the big game, but the commercial and all promotional content has been paused indefinitely following the real-life death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday. If you’re wondering how insensitive the funeral of a fictional legume could possibly be, buckle up.
Speaking with MSN before the commercial was pulled, Group Creative Director at Planters’ agency VaynerMedia Mike Pierantozzi said the idea to kill off Mr. Peanut was inspired by Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame. No, really:
“We started talking about how the internet treats when someone dies — specifically, we were thinking about fictional characters, [like when] Iron Man died. When Iron Man died, we saw an incredible reaction on Twitter and on social media. It’s such a strange phenomenon.”
Pierantozzi said they then created a program in which Mr. Peanut dies sacrificing himself for his friends, “which has always been a tenet of who he is and what he does.” Sure, Mike.
They went the somber route and took Mr. Peanut’s death incredibly seriously, hyping up his “funeral” that would be broadcast during the Super Bowl. The idea backfired, as we now know, and it’ll be curious to see if and when this “commercial” sees the light of day.
“We wanted you to know that we are saddened by this weekend’s news and Planters has paused all campaign activities, including paid media, and will evaluate next steps through a lens of sensitivity to those impacted by this tragedy,” a spokesperson for Planters reportedly said.
Maybe brands shouldn’t use death as a way to advertise their content? Just a thought.