Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

What Marketers Can Learn From Peanuts

In Insight on October 29, 2008 at 10:22 am

Last night I watched a couple of Peanuts cartoons with my kids. Saying that Peanuts is genious isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea, the brand has been around for 50+ years. But watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown reminded me of some of the reasons it has lasted so long, and works for my boys (ages 9 and 5) as much as it works for me.

On the hunt for the Red Baron

On the hunt for the Red Baron

There were so many great, unnecessary, details. That Snoopy was a World War I flying ace in his dreams is a sublime digression. That his doghouse became his airplane was imaginative. That everyone knows it was a Sopwith Camel is the type of genius that makes brands powerful 50 years later. My guess is that that little detail wasn’t introduced the first time Snoopy donned the goggles and scarf. One of the great things about a comic strip that lasts five decades is that you can continue to add layers. The same is true with your brand. Little details thrill and delight consumers. Would an individual cartoon or strip have been as enjoyable had we not known Snoopy flew a Sopwith Camel? Yes, probably so. But our enjoyment of the Peanuts brand would have been less. Imperceptably so, but all those details – Schroeder’s love of Beethoven, Peppermint Patty always calling Charlie Brown ‘Chuck’, or Snoopy’s brother Spike living in Needles, CA – those all add up to make Peanuts something more than just a funny comic.

People are filled with quirks, secrets, contradictions and little known facts, that’s what makes them interesting. It works the same way for brands.  Can your product include a seemingly superfluous feature? Can you give your mascot a funny name?

This doesn’t mean you should agonize over every little thing, or that you have to cram backstory into every piece of marketing, but a little sprinkling over the course of time will add up to something rich and textured that consumers can get to know, just like a good friend.

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