Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mommy, why does Mr. Peanut sound like Iron Man? And why does he have a Band-Aid on the back of his head?

On Tuesday, Planters released a new commercial in which their spokesperson (spokesnut?), Mr. Peanut, actually spoke for the first time.

Hah, hah. You will excuse me while my guts bust open from laughing so hard. First of all, they got Iron Man to do Mr. Peanut's voice. No offense to Iron Man, because I think he's an engaging and talented actor, but he is Iron Man for crying out loud.

How many iconic merchandising figures is one actor allowed to be?

Second, and even more important: He has a Band-Aid on the back of his head. Because the nutcracker (named Richard, by the way, a powerful and noble name) did something to his head -- tried to bite him? With his nutcracker mouth?

Wait a minute-- Is Mr. Peanut actually a peanut? Does he have peanuts inside his shell? Why is he able to speak at all -- he has a mouth, vocal chords, a tongue? Why is he able to reason? Do his "nuts" ever "go bad?" Does he have a brain? Is his brain inside one of his nuts? He's been around a long time; is he now rotting? Have you ever cracked open the shell of a peanut that's been around too long? It's nasty.

I had none of these questions/concerns when Mr. Peanut was a silent gentleman, a mystery figure of fantasy and intriguing possibilities. All of those possibilities unspoken.

For over 100 years, Mr. Peanut kept his dignified mouth shut. He was an ideal upon which consumers could project their own ideas of gentlemanly perfection. He could speak with a British accent, or a Southern accent, or a Mexican accent, or no accent at all. He could be from anywhere. He could be aloof, or he could be the life of the party. It depended on the consumer, and their mood at that time. Even when he appeared in that misguided but almost irresistible "Icons" commercial for MasterCard, he kept aloof from the others, watching the whole dinner from the head of the table, as if he alone knew it was a mistake to bring all these characters together, and yet he was too much a silent gentleman to actually say anything about it:

Mr. Peanut survived that appearance. But this one? He sounds like Iron Man now. Yes, Iron Man does wear a "shell," of sorts, but that makes it even worse (now, any time I see a character with a shell, I'll expect them to sound like Robert Downey, Jr). It will never be the same. Mr. Peanut has been an iconic aspirational/gentleman figure. Now he's just some guy with a Band-Aid on the back of his head, who might have rotting peanuts inside him.

Sounds appetizing, doesn't it?

Mr. Peanut through the ages pic source.

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