Spats all, folks.
Planters just killed off its iconic Mr. Peanut mascot in a Super Bowl pregame ad.
The Kraft Heinz /zigman2/quotes/203625533/composite KHC -0.58% snack brand changed the name on Mr. Peanut’s official Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -1.90% account on Wednesday to “The Estate of Mr. Peanut” and tweeted that the natty nut known for his top hat, monocle, spats and cane had passed away. The 104-year-old talking legume, according to Planters, had “sacrificed himself to save his friends when they needed him most.”
The “friends” in question would be actors Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes, who star in the Super Bowl spot also released Wednesday. It shows the trio on a “nutty adventure” in the unfortunately named NUTmobile — and singing Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” — when the vehicle spins out of control and runs off of a cliff. The three friends jump out of vehicle and cling to a tree branch, but it’s too heavy to support all of them. So Mr. Peanut (who is, arguably, the lightest of the three of them…) lets go of the branch to save his friends. He hits the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile–like NUTmobile below, which bursts into flames — so, even if he might plausibly have survived the fall, it would appear that Mr. Peanut is roasted.
Watch it here:
Planters spread the somber news about the lordly legume’s demise Wednesday morning with a graphic showing his signature monocle shedding a single tear, along with, “In Memory Of Mr. Peanut 1916-2020.” A press release notes that the ad will air during the pregame show on Feb. 2, before the game kicks off, and then Planters’ official Super Bowl commercial — salted to (excuse us, slated to ) feature Mr. Peanut’s funeral, of course — will air during the third quarter of the NFL title game, which pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s with heavy hearts that we confirm Mr. Peanut has passed away at 104 years old,” said Planters brand manager Samantha Hess in a press statement, encouraging fans to tune in to the funeral.
“Mr. Peanut was more than just a friend — he was a hero. His passing has shook me to my core,” added Matt Walsh in the same release.
The marketing move succeeded in getting #RIPeanut and “Mr. Peanut” trending on Twitter by Wednesday afternoon. Brands like the Procter & Gamble’s /zigman2/quotes/202894679/composite PG +0.09% Mr. Clean; Oreo Cookies, a Mondelez International /zigman2/quotes/201769764/composite MDLZ -0.49% brand; and Chuck E. Cheese chimed in that Mr. Peanut shell be missed.
Of course, plenty of people on Twitter chewed out the people behind the publicity stunt.
Others found it a cringe-worthy example of social-media marketing, or questioned its sensitivity to people with mental-health issues, referencing the fact that the suicide rate among young Americans has soared more than 50% over the past 10 years.
This isn’t the first time a brand has killed off a mascot in a Super Bowl ad — nor is Mr. Peanut the first such character to meet its demise in a cliff fall. In 2012, William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame, then a spokesman known as “the Negotiator” for Priceline /zigman2/quotes/203576210/composite BKNG -2.14% , “sacrificed himself” by rescuing passengers on a runaway bus before being sent over a cliff.
“I’m in grief mode,” the Captain Kirk actor said at the time . “It was a great run.”
“Someone check on the Keebler Elves,” tweeted NBC News editor Zack Haberman upon viewing the new Planters commercial.