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Planters Peanuts is Hiring ‘peanutters’ to Drive NUTmobiles Across the US

Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images
Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images

Planters Peanuts: Corporate marketing teams dream of devising a logo and company mascot that become indelibly linked to their product in the public’s mind – something common yet quirky, an image that immediately makes folks think of the firm it represents.

There is a lot of luck involved in finding that perfect image. But a lot of talent and skill, too.
Mr. Peanut, the company mascot belonging to Planters Peanuts (owned by ketchup maker Heinz) has been just such an indelible image for more than 100 years.

Planters Peanut store in Raleigh, North Carolina, 1950s
Planters Peanut store in Raleigh, North Carolina, 1950s

The peanut-as-elegant guy was first introduced to consumers in 1916, and ever since, his top hat, cane, gloves, spats and monocle have been linked to Planters products in everyone’s mind.

Mr. Peanut has been so successful as a marketing tool, in fact, that his look has not been altered or updated at all during the last century, regardless of changing times, changing tastes and changing trends in marketing. He (it?) is one of those rare brand images – an adorable mascot that has never offended anyone.

About 16 years ago, the company posited the possibility of changing Mr. Peanut’s look by adding a bow tie, or a pocket watch, or perhaps even cuff links to his look.

The ideas were resoundingly shot down by a public that insisted the brand keep Mr. Peanut just as he is. And so he looks now precisely as he did more than 100 years ago.

Still, the company does not want to rest on Mr. Peanut’s laurels. That’s why, this summer, it is using a handful of drivers to cruise around America in a peanut-shaped vehicle to dole out snacks and take shots of consumers enjoying Planters products.

Nine individuals will be chosen from the stack of more than 500 applications received, most of whom are recent high school or college graduates looking for a unique way to spend the coming year and get paid for it.

In the various communities they visit, the grads will take photos and post shots and clips to Mr. Peanut’s social media accounts. He may be one of the oldest, and most iconic, brand images in the world, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t take advantage of modern technology to get his look out to new customers.

A company press release says that the drivers will capture “enjoyable moments” on the road, and keep the public up to date on their vehicles’ adventures, thereby raising Mr. Peanut’s profile on social media.

The “nutmobiles,” as the vehicles the young folks will drive are called, are each 26 feet long, and painted a bright yellow, in keeping with the company’s colours. The gig last a full year, and all the candidates need are valid drivers’ licenses and a passion for the products.

Planters Nut & Chocolate Company advertisement in The Saturday Evening Post, 1921.
Planters Nut & Chocolate Company advertisement in The Saturday Evening Post, 1921.

Not only nuts, but everything under the Planters banner, including peanut butter bites and caramel clusters, two other snacks in its product line up.

But they will not be the only brand vehicles on the road this summer – Oscar Meyer is also sending out “wiener mobiles” to places around the U.S., hoping to raise the brand’s profile in a similar way.

Assuming that ball parks and other public spaces are open and busy this year after a long pandemic, no doubt both companies will see their products fly from vehicle shelves to an anxious – and hungry — public.

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It may all seem a bit, ahem, nutty to those of us who don’t work in marketing and promotions. But there is no denying that Mr. Peanut has been an upstanding, and outstanding, symbol for a snack company whose products are all over the globe.

Soon these nutmobile drivers will make his image even more pervasive right across the country.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News