Remember Baby Nut? This year is so strange that the Planters character is now 21
Baby Nut, we hardly knew ye.
In 2020, a year in which it can feel like everyone is aging more rapidly than usual, a brand mascot has actually done so. The Baby Nut Planters spokes-legume introduced in February has reemerged, morphing from his infantile character into a 21-year-old. Starting Aug. 11, Baby Nut has made way for Peanut Jr.
Baby Nut was introduced through a rebirth at Mr. Peanut’s funeral during a 2020 Super Bowl commercial spot that aired days after a spot in which Mr. Peanut jumped from a tree branch after a Nutmobile crash to spare passengers Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh. Kraft Heinz opted to rethink its media strategy for the campaign after Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a helicopter crash days after the debut of the “Road Trip” spot with the Nutmobile crash.
Now, Baby Nut is being replaced. The premise of the latest campaign is to have Peanut Jr. help brand fans celebrate — or dare we say, “shellebrate” — the birthdays that fly by with little fanfare during the coronavirus pandemic.
Baby Nut is transforming into a 21-year-old Peanut Jr. Cue the tie-ins to brands that want to party with the legume now that he’s the legal drinking age in the United States. It seems as though Peanut Jr. will be partying with some adult beverages. No word yet on whether his own beer will be the beverage of choice.
“Peanut Jr. still has a lot to learn, like what his favorite go-to drink is, as he continues to grow up to become a peanut of the people,” the brand stated.
Planters, a Kraft Heinz brand, hasn’t done much with Baby Nut since his February debut other than some social media posts and asking fans to shell out money for some Baby Nut-themed merch. More recently, Baby Nut began to appear on some Planters packaging. It's possible that Planters had to shelve or rework some of its marketing plans due to the various issues in the news, including the coronavirus pandemic, that have come up since the Super Bowl.
Whether or not fans are old enough to imbibe, they can enter a sweepstakes to be one of three people to win $2,100 in cash, delivered to their home by the Nutmobile. (Guess it escaped the pre-Super Bowl crash?)
Fans who have had or will have a birthday in quarantine are being asked to share their dream birthday gift, in ten words or less, on Twitter with the hashtags #MakeMyBirthdayNuts and #Sweepstakes.
On Aug. 10, the Mr. Peanut Twitter handle posted messages alluding to the aging on Twitter. One message read: “Tomorrow’s a big day! And while most of the world seems pretty big when you’re a baby, tomorrow is actually going to be huge.” One posted later read: "Sometimes you must glow up in order to grow up."
Baby Nut appeared seemingly out of nowhere when he popped from the burial site in the Super Bowl spot from VaynerMedia. Yet this year’s version wasn’t the first infant rendition of Mr. Peanut. A 2004 Planters Christmas spot from FCB showed a Baby Nut-like character in a black-and-white flashback showing a very young Mr. Peanut getting his monocle, cane and top hat as gifts. In that spot, the older Mr. Peanut watches a film of the prior moment while sitting on a couch between Santa and Rudolph.
Terri Meyer and Sandy Greenberg, who now run their eponymous agency Terri & Sandy, said they worked on that spot while they were at the Interpublic agency.
“At that point in time Mr. Peanut didn’t speak,” Meyer recalled in a recent conversation. “We decided we could have gurgles.”
That Christmas-themed spot had a holiday season evergreen appeal and ran for a few years.
“It’s fun advertising trivia,” said Greenberg.
The current Planters work is done by VaynerMedia as the lead agency, with Starcom on media and ICF Next on public relations.