‘Tis the season for “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and the 50th year the TV special will be watched by people all over America. But in this time of nostalgia and tradition, MetLife has officially ended all brand association with the Peanuts gang. This includes our beloved Snoopy, the main mascot who has defined the MetLife brand for 31 years.
According to Esther Lee, global chief marketing officer of MetLife, the company first turned to Snoopy in 1985 to give MetLife a relatable and fun attitude. In an atmosphere when most insurance companies were perceived as cold and harsh, the Snoopy Decision was one that produced great results.
“Now, 31 years later, being friendly and approachable isn’t enough,” said Lee. “What [consumers] are looking for, from a company like ours, is a partnership to really help them navigate some of these important times in their lives.”
The new MetLife identity will include a new logo and the tagline “MetLife. Navigating life together.” Lee noted that more than 1,000 other companies use the Peanuts characters in some of their advertising, which dilutes MetLife’s brand value. Through customer research, MetLife found that few people associate Snoopy with MetLife.
We at Satori are generally the first to celebrate change, especially with branding that can measure its age in decades. But we question the research done by MetLife: as an endearing and time-weathered children’s character, thoughts of Snoopy no doubt invoke the rest of the Peanuts characters, rather than a corporate tie. But more importantly: when you think of MetLife, don’t you think of Snoopy?
Others have voiced their support for beagle-based branding as well. As MetLife is consciously de-coupling from its US retail business, now called Brighthouse Financial, many have questioned if Snoopy will go to live with that brand instead.
“It is highly unlikely the company would spin off its retail business without the dog,” said Al Ries, chairman of market-strategy firm Ries & Ries. “Would anyone buy the Corona brand without the lime? Or the cola business from Coca-Cola without the contour bottle?”
In spite of the conjecture, the latest branding released for Brighthouse Financial makes no mention of Snoopy and his pals. The new MetLife branding will continue rolling out through next year, with print ads beginning this week and a TV push set for the end of this year.
The biggest question of all: What does this mean for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Does this change in branding mean the end of our beloved giant inflated Snoopy, floating majestically through the streets of New York? Generally held near MetLife Stadium, we’ll have to wait and see if the brand association was the only tether keeping this American treasure in the spotlight.