Strategy and Sausages:
A British Strategic Planner in Germany
Thursday, 21 April 2016
A jolly Happy Birthday!
Celebrations are in full swing back in Blighty for The Queen's 90th birthday, and I will no doubt join in. But I also want to celebrate a different birthday, for another (excuse the 'i-word') icon. Not a lady, this time, but a rather fine gent.
Mr Peanut, of Planter's fame, is 100 years old and celebrated his birthday officially two days ago.
Mr Peanut is one of my favourite brand characters, along with the Michelin man. Not many brand characters reach 100 without being deemed un-PC, too fat, too skinny, the wrong colour, inappropriate or - shock horror - offensive.
Although one or two of Mr Peanut's incarnations are laughable rather than endearing (I am looking at the first NUTmobile here), his longevity surely relies on his staying the sophisticated, nutty gent who promises great quality peanuts. Monocles and spats never go out of fashion.
I'm not sure what year my Mr Peanut mug dates from, but it could as well have been made yesterday.
The history of Mr Peanut is fascinating. In an early example of crowd-sourcing, the original sketches won a competition for 13-year-old Antonio 'Tony' Gentile. Tony won $5 for his idea, which must have been a fair amount of money for a young teenager in 1916. Here's one of his sketches, and you can see the others and read more here.
There's a rather sad end to Tony's story. He didn't go into the world of Madison Avenue, but qualified in medicine and became a surgeon. He died of a heart attack at the tragically early age of 36.
I do wonder, though, what that young boy would have thought if he'd caught a fast-forward glimpse of his creation in 2016.
When I was little, I wanted to be a spy. I got off to a good start, studying Psychology at Trinity College, Cambridge but somehow got side-tracked into the wonderful world of advertising and marketing.
My children's books: