Peanuts are not a food one necessarily associates with age. But as he neared his 100th birthday, Mr. Peanut — the legendary Planters’ mascot created by a 13-year-old contest winner in 1916 — was losing some of his youthful appeal. The majority of the brand’s customers are over 40 years old, according to Kelsey Guglielmi, senior associate brand manager at Planters.
So a little over a year ago, Planters, which is part of the Kraft Heinz company, launched an Instagram account, @plantersnutmobile, documenting the cross-country travels of the world’s oldest legume. His transportation of choice? A giant peanut on wheels called the NUTmobile, a vehicle that has been around since 1935.
The 27-foot-long car was created in 2013 and stops at over 500 events each year. To keep the party going, Planters employs young "Peanutters" to travel with the car and dress the part of Mr. Peanut. These brand enthusiasts, many of whom are recent college grads, take the pictures and populate the account. They go through a two-week training session dubbed "Peanutters Prep" that teaches them the finer points of gaining followers. (The rest of Planters’ social media accounts are handled by its creative agency, Leo Burnett.)
"Instagram is a great visual platform to show what this nut is doing," says Guglielmi. You can also track the NUTmobile online.
So far, the experiment is having modest success. The account so far has about 1,200 followers, and posts tend to get about 65 likes and 3 comments.
This year, to celebrate the nut’s 100th birthday, Mr. Peanut is hosting a sweepstakes. People can register online to have the NUTmobile stop by for their birthdays. Guglielmi says most of these visits will be documented on Instagram. "He is out to elevate his fans’ experience," she says.