- Planters has paused its #RIPeanut campaign for the Super Bowl in response to NBA legend Kobe Bryant's death, per a company statement cited in Ad Age. "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."
- The Super Bowl commercial featuring the funeral of brand mascot Mr. Peanut will air as planned during the big game on Sunday, a company spokesperson told Adweek.
- In a preview spot, which was "leaked" on social on Jan. 21 to build buzz before game day, Mr. Peanut sacrifices himself so that his friends, actor Wesley Snipes and comedian Matt Walsh, can survive after their vehicle crashes near a cliff.
Planters' #RIPeanut hashtag gained massive momentum on social media last week and over the weekend, indicating a strong start to the snack brand's strategy heading into the biggest live event of the year. The hashtag snagged 25,000 retweets and more than 100,000 likes in just one day after the brand's supposed video "leak," attracting the attention of celebrities and other brands whose major followings helped to elevate chatter around Planters.
In light of Kobe Bryant's sudden death just days after the fictional peanut's, Planters wisely paused its paid efforts on social media, and the hashtag's momentum seems to have waned since. As sports fans mourn the loss of a celebrated athlete, many consumers may have felt it in poor taste for Planters to playfully mourn its 104-year-old mascot. Planters could have faced significant backlash and negative attention had it not responded quickly.
The challenge the brand faces now is how to appropriately continue its #RIPeanut campaign with less than a week to go until the Super Bowl. Thirty-second slots during the game have sold for north of $5.6 million, a major investment that Planters may not want to lose out on, even under the sensitive circumstances surrounding Bryant's death.
Planters isn't the only brand reacting to Bryant's death. Procter & Gamble's Olay, Pop-Tarts and Avocados From Mexico are also hitting the pause button on their Super Bowl marketing efforts, with spokespeople saying it wasn't the right timing with the current news cycle.