In 1916, the Planters Peanut Co.-then 10 years old and looking for a brand icon-ran a contest. Fourteen-year-old Anthony Gentile sent in a sketch, won, and Mr. Peanut became one of the most enduring and identifiable characters in advertising history.
Throughout the last century, Mr. Peanut has updated his style and strutted his stuff. In 1937 he first appeared on a billboard in Times Square, and he's still perched atop the Great White Way. He helped promote war savings stamps during WWII; in the 1950s he starred in his first TV commercials; he was a star attraction at the 1960s New York World's Fair. He first floated (in '97), then rode (since '99) in his Nut Mobile in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 2004, Mr. Peanut got his own star on Madison Avenue's Advertising Walk of Fame.
Now as Planters celebrates 100 years, and our boy turns 90, there's a new contest. Should Mr. Peanut add a bow tie, cuff links or pocket watch to his admittedly limited wardrobe? All three? A combination thereof? Everyone's invited to vote at planters.com. The winner will be announced in 2007. In the meantime, Mr. Peanut is trying out some new looks on his own in print ads from FCB.
Creative directors: Sandy Greenberg, Terri Meyer. Art director: Todd Eisner. Writer: Greg Wikoff. Illustrator: Mary Nittolo.
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