Trying to get an edge in Super Bowl advertising is tough. You've got some of the best marketers in the world out to push their clients and go trolling for attention and maybe an award or two.
The pressure is great and companies have been known to go to extremes. Kraft Heinz and its Planters brand is out early to catch attention through an elaborate set-up. Here's a message from the Twitter account set up for the Mr. Peanut mascot:
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-- The Estate of Mr. Peanut (@MrPeanut) January 22, 2020
A definite setup. There's a similar message on the Planters webpage carousel.
And then there's the video that was put online and also conveniently left in a Box.com account so media companies could download it.
The company is trying to set up a wave of attention that it will satisfy come Sunday, Feb. 2. Is the character dead? Will it come back? Is there a plan?
Here's how AdAge reacted to it:
No word yet on whether this is the official Super Bowl ad, and if so, if it was leaked intentionally. The tweet has been live for hours. It could also be a teaser to the Super Bowl ad, meant to drum up attention. A representative for Planters' parent company Kraft Heinz did not immediately return a request to comment.
Of course it's a teaser. No one at a major consumer packaged goods company like Kraft Heinz is going to pull a stunt anything close to this ahead of the Super Bowl without having a tie-in. It's about getting "buzz" and what's called "earned media," which means mentions in various places.
From a popular culture view, who cares? Really, if your world revolves around a long-standing advertising tool, then life promises many disappointments. The reason to look at this is from a marketing perspective. What can you learn and how is this working?
Will it work? Hard to tell this far out. I highly doubt that someone who wasn't planning to tune into the game would do so just to see how things end for Mr. Peanut--perhaps as a splatter of peanut butter on the great PB&J of life. Or at least an advertising approximation.
But, at least at this point, it seems not so much hugely original so much as a mash-up of what other companies have done.
For example, on the suspense aspect, this feels a bit like 2018, when the Skittles brand had four different potential spots that it released before the game.
The denouement? Only one of the played and that was seen by one person. The game ad was watching his reactions.
Kind of strange, but Skittles creative team has a tendency to be so. And it works for them.
But this approach seems out of the feeling of Planters. And then there's the untimely harvest of the Mr. Peanut character. That is a reminder of last year, when during the Game of Thrones versus Bud Light, the Bud Knight got crushed.
One less mascot for the advertising world.
And now there may be another. I can't help but think that something like, while clearly it gets some added attention, may leave consumers in one of two positions. Either they really don't care, in which case it seems kind of silly, or they do and won't be too pleased that the company ditched "their" character.
Maybe it will all make for big sales ultimately for them. Or maybe lots of "mentions" and "engagement" that agency and marketing people will use as proof that it was worth the money, whether anyone can tie sales to a campaign or not.
Or then, maybe it will be like a party that was so in demand that nobody went.
In any case, at least they'll have enough bar snacks for everyone.