Though the passing of Kobe Bryant forced Planters to hit “pause” on its #RIPeanut campaign — in which the brand’s 104-year-old mascot Mr. Peanut suffered a horrible fate while saving the lives of others – the company ran its Super Bowl LIV commercial as planned during the Feb. 2 game. At the start of the commercial, Mr. Peanut is no more, having sacrificed his life so that Wesley Snipes and Veep’s Matt Walsh could live. Well-wishers and mourners are attending the legume’s funeral but the commercial has a strange twist. After Wesley gives a moving eulogy people are stunned after Mr. Peanut is reborn from a plant that sprouts from the ground. “Just kidding,” the “baby nut” says. “I’m back.”
Initially, the “death” of the mascot went viral, and Planters seemed poised to have a huge Super Bowl moment. Then, the unexpected, heartbreaking death of Kobe Bryant made the company rethink its strategy. “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 the brand said over email to AdWeek. The “pause” only applied to the brand’s paid efforts on Twitter and YouTube, as well as other pre-Big Game outreach efforts. Because they had already paid for the Super Bowl spot, the company said it would air the commercial as planned.
It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that Mr. Peanut has died at 104. In the ultimate selfless act, he sacrificed himself to save his friends when they needed him most. Please pay your respects with #RIPeanut pic.twitter.com/VFnEFod4Zp
— Peanut Jr. (@MrPeanut) January 22, 2020
Brand Twitter – yes, that’s a thing – reacted. “We, too, would sacrifice it all for the nut,” tweeted @Snickers. Help us give a 21 dunk salute to our nutty and sweet friend,” added @Oreo. “We’re pouring out a can of Peanut Butter Porter in loving memory of the iconic Mr Peanut,” tweeted @SaugatuckBrew, adding a picture of a crying hipster pouring out a peanut butter porter.“This is a truly tragic day for peanut lovers everywhere. It’s also a reminder not to judge a peanut by it’s shell, but by what’s inside because that’s what really matters.” Other brands like @MrClean (“Always classy, always crunchy, always cleaned up nicely”) @Nascar, and @CornNuts also mourned the mascot. The response online made Mr. Peanut the top trend on Twitter.
This isn’t the first time that a brand has killed off a mascot with a Super Bowl ad. In 2012, Priceline decided to bid adieu to “The Negotiator,” the character portrayed by William Shatner. “The Negotiator” sacrificed himself by recusing passengers on a runaway bus before it was sent over a cliff, per MarketWatch. “I’m in grief mode,” Shatner said at the time. “It was a great run.”