Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

In a New York Times article, Kraft is slated to unveil a re-imagined Mr. Peanut for Planters Peanuts. Gone is the familiar yellow illustration and in its place is an animated, talking (voiced by Robert Downey Jr.) dapper Mr. Peanut.  The attempt to revitalize the brand with a new twist on a classic is what researchers are calling “new retro.” The concept hinges on the prospect of consumers’ nostalgia while treading the line of “old school” lightly.

The surge in marketers efforts to revive classic ad mascots, producers re-making classic television shows and consumers’ desire for a glimmer of yesteryear—is somewhat refreshing. In a media landscape where brands and companies compete for the biggest share of our eyes, hearts and dollars, the idea of tapping into what our grandparents would deem the “glory days” while maintaining a clean, modern perspective is enough to appeal to both audiences. Yet another recent example is Volkswagon’s re-imagination of the classic “Singing In The Rain” scene to the tune of a re-mixed Gene Kelly. It is perhaps the best representation of “new retro” where this generation is introduced to something that is simply – classic.

Blame it on the popularity and panache of “Mad Men”– the concept of bridging the past with the present leaves something to be desired. It is this generation’s longing for a time that was perceived as classic, aspirational and simple. There was something blissfully naïve about the generation where we were as yet untainted by the world of consumerism (and perhaps it is because it was really just hitting it its stride). Today our senses are bombarded by so much we’ve become numb to what holds our attention. Perhaps this is why advertisers and marketers are eager to tug at our heart strings, tap into our psyches and re-introduce us to our pasts.

But as beloved characters go – the question is whether or not “new retro” is something that resonates with consumers when it comes down to brand awareness, loyalty and inevitably the checkout line. Can a talking peanut really make you buy any more peanuts than the familiar static yellow illustration that is ubiquitous with the peanut isle? My thoughts are, probably not, but you’ll certainly fall in love with the new guy – and that may just be enough to make it all worthwhile.

The new Mr. Peanut is set to make his debut via Facebook tomorrow.

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