Planters debuts Peanut Jr. with Twitter challenge celebrating quarantine birthdays

Brief:

  • Kraft Heinz’s Planters brand of packaged nuts this week unveiled an update to its mascot: Baby Nut, the doe-eyed newborn who first appeared in a Super Bowl commercial as a reincarnated version of long-time mascot Mr. Peanut, has suddenly matured into a 21-year-old named Peanut Jr., as revealed in a post on Twitter.
  • With Peanut Jr.’s coming of age, Planters is giving Twitter users who either celebrated or will celebrate a birthday in quarantine the chance to win $2,100 in cash delivered via the brand’s Nutmobile. To enter, Planters fans must share a description of their dream birthday gift in a tweet that’s no longer than 10 words.
  • The tweet also must include the @MrPeanut handle along with the #MakeMyBirthdayNuts and #Sweepstakes hashtags. The sweepstakes ends at 12 a.m. ET on Aug. 24, with the winners announced soon after that, per the contest rules. Mr. Peanut also will give away 200 prize packages that include branded merchandise.

Insight:

Planters’ hashtag challenge on Twitter aims to drive engagement for the brand by again shining the spotlight on a highly publicized campaign that’s now stretched over months. The Kraft Heinz label has adjusted its messaging to recognize the realities of living under the coronavirus pandemic, providing consumers who have a birthday during the lockdown period with an outlet to express their wishes and enter for a chance to win a cash prize.

The Mr. Peanut saga started with a pre-game Super Bowl ad that showed the 104-year-old mascot dying in an act of sacrifice to save his friends, played by actor Wesley Snipes and comedian Matt Walsh. Mr. Peanut was reborn as Baby Nut in a Super Bowl spot depicting his funeral. While the ad ran as planned, Planters suspended other parts of the campaign to avoid offending people who mourned the death of Kobe Bryant after the basketball star was killed in a helicopter crash just weeks before the game.

This week’s introduction of Peanut Jr. as a Gen Z adult ready to buy his first beer is the latest step in Planters’ plan to evolve Mr. Peanut and refresh its brand image. Maya McDonald, head of social and digital for beverages, snacks and desserts at Kraft Heinz, told Adweek in April that the character was on a journey of “growing back into his previous form.” At that time, Baby Nut reappeared after a two-month hiatus as the pandemic led many marketers to either suspend campaigns or revamp them to match a more serious public tone.

The reaction to Peanut Jr. so far has been mixed, with many people expressing displeasure about his appearance during the ongoing health crisis that has led to financial hardship for millions of people. Mr. Pumpkin Movies, an Australian movie channel on YouTube, has inspired a movement to block Mr. Peanut. The #BlockMrPeanut hashtag started to trend on Twitter as more people piled on, Business Insider reported.

It’s too early to tell whether the backlash will dissuade Twitter users from participating in the #MakeMyBirthdayNuts campaign. The lighter tone of the campaign is consistent with other hashtag challenges that urge people to have fun while creating social media posts.

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