Planters has "paused" a high-profile ad campaign featuring the death of longtime mascot Mr. Peanut, the snack food company announced Monday. The suspension, which affects advertising on social-media sites, was in response to the death of Kobe Bryant and eight others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday.
"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," said a Planters statement sent to media outlets including Advertising Age, which first reported the decision.
The "death" of Mr. Peanut was revealed last week when Planters released a full 30-second ad, later asking viewers to "pay their respects" online for the monocle-wearing mascot. The prerelease was designed as part of a broad-based promotion for another ad — this one featuring a funeral — which is expected to air during the third quarter of Sunday's Super Bowl telecast.
Monday's so-called pause is unlikely to affect the Super Bowl commercial — already paid for — although it's unclear what "next steps" Planters has in mind. With Mr. Peanut's "death," the company — owned by Chicago-based Kraft-Heinz — has already achieved something of a rarity in the long history of Super Bowl advertising: Pregame buzz, and a lot of it. The ad already has more than 6 million views on YouTube (it remained online Monday afternoon), while the "death" not only made it past water cooler discourse but all the way to late-night television. Returning from its midseason hiatus, for example, "Saturday Night Live" featured Mr. Peanut in the cold open (which was set in hell).
In the ad, Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh are singing along to Cutting Crew's "I Just Died in Your Arms" while traveling in the NUTmobile with Mr. Peanut at the wheel. The three are ejected when Mr. Peanut swerves to avoid an armadillo on the roadway and the vehicle crashes into a canyon. When Mr. Peanut voluntarily lets go of a branch onto which all three are holding in order to save the two actors, the mascot falls on top of the NUTmobile. Snipes says, "Maybe he'll be all right." A fiery explosion follows. "Maybe not." The ad's kicker: "Mr. Peanut, 1916-2020."