Staying Current in Communications
Anyone who has worked on branding knows it is a tireless effort with well-thought-out plans, storytelling and the blood, sweat and tears of a communications team. If you know this, you also likely know that the most satisfying part of these campaigns is the implementation. Once all of that hard work pays off, the stress of planning feels immediately relieved. But what if it wasn’t? Part of implementing a branding campaign is being aware of current events and the influences the outside world can have on the success of your campaign.
The world was shaken by the tragedy of Kobe and Gianna Bryant passing in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26. Social media was immediately flooded with memorials, celebrity comments and branded tributes. In some cases, brands paused current content to pay respect to the tragic incident and the families involved. One of the most prominent cases is Planters and their preparation for Super Bowl Sunday.
The Death of Mr. Peanut
In a YouTube video and television spot, Mr. Peanut - the 104-year-old iconic mascot of Planters- can be seen sacrificing himself to save actors Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes. Click here to see the video.
Planters has since updated all social media platforms to advertise the death of their mascot, with a mysterious note to pay attention during the Super Bowl game. Just days away, the Super Bowl draws an average of 73 million viewers, according to Statista.
With the national grief centered around this tragedy, Planters has made the bold decision to re-evaluate its advertising plans. Logically, killing a well-known mascot is a great way to increase brand awareness and generate attention; however, it comes at an unexpectedly poor time. Planters had mailed prayer candles to stakeholders prior to the accident, a tactic which reportedly upset some. Planters released a statement that it would pause paid social media marketing, but would still air its Super Bowl commercial featuring Mr. Peanut’s funeral.
Social media was quickly taken aback by the unfortunate timing of Planters’ campaign. The humor Planters sought to imbue was lost in the flames of grief felt across the nation. Though Planters had no direct control of the incident, it apologized, shared its love and compassion for the affected families, and respectfully withdrew from the conversation. Was this the right call? It’s hard to say. It is respectable for Planters to adjust their strategy to suit the current events, but is it Planters’ responsibility to change its business to suit extrinsic events? Comment your thoughts!