Special to NYSportsJournalism
October 21, 2016: Calling it the “most significant change to the brand in over 30 years,” MetLife has decided to end its relationship with Charles Schulz’s Snoopy, the animated dog, and other friends that inhabit the world of Peanuts.
The MetLife-Snoopy alliance dates back to 1985.
The insurance firm said it is seeking to "remove the complexities traditionally associated with insurance" by "moving away from a traditional product-development model to one driven by customer insights," Steven Kandarian, chairman, president and CEO for MetLife, Inc. said in a statement.
The strategy is led by a new global brand platform, "MetLife. Navigating Life Together."
MetLife said it would "phase out its use of Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang," which has been used on TV, in print and online, as well as via highly visible MetLife blimps named "Snoopy One," "Snoopy Two," and "Snoopy Three."
Earlier this year, New York-based MetLife said it would "pursue the separation of a substantial portion of its U.S. retail segment" to focus on its group life and employee benefits divisions.
"To adapt to our changing world, we are re-thinking how we do business," Steven Kandarian, chairman, president and CEO for MetLife, Inc., said in a statement. "We are moving away from a traditional product-development model to one driven by customer insights.
"Our new brand reflects our company's transformation and differentiates us in the marketplace, ultimately driving greater value for our customers and shareholders," said Kandarian.
The change also includes MetLife's new visual branding, adding green to the company’s traditional blue “in a symbol of partnership to form an M for MetLife.”
In addition, the colors reflect the company’s naming rights deal at MetLife Stadium, home for the NFL’s New York Jets, whose main color is green, and New York Giants, whose main color is blue.
An eight-foot Snoopy statue was placed outside MetLife Stadium in 2012 in conduction with the naming rights, and a pre-season game between the Giants and Jets had been dubbed “The Snoopy Bowl.”
MetLife said it would be rolling out the new brand globally through 2017.
Initial marketing will hit mobile, social and Web properties. Print ads will appear in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Washington Post beginning Oct. 21. TV will break in December.
Additional advertising is running in Mexico, Korea and Japan.
"We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable at a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant."
All sans Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts crew.
According to Esther Lee, global chief marketing officer of MetLife, "We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant. Snoopy helped drive our business and served an important role at the time.
"We are embarking on a journey to upend the long-entrenched norms of the insurance industry. We are focused on humanizing our industry and designing every customer experience to reflect the modern company we're becoming," said Lee.
Even with this, the Peanuts brand will have plenty of work.
Charles Schulz passed away in 2000, but his estate this year is expected to have an income of $48 million, second among deceased celebrities only to Michael Jackson ($845 million), according to Forbes.
Peanuts, despite being more than 65 years old, is still popular in modern culture. It is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown — with McDonald’s among its partners.
Peanuts characters have appeared in ads for Dolly Madison snack cakes, Chex Mix, Bounty, Cheerios, A&W Root Beer, Kraft Foods, Ford and an array of products for Hallmark Cards, an on-going alliance that dates back to 1960.
The assets are owned by Peanuts Worldwide, LLC, a joint venture of the Iconix Brand Group (whose portfolio also includes Umbra, Starter, Jay-Z’s Rocawear, Pony, London Fog, Zoo York, Ed Hardy and Joe Boxer) and Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.
"We have great respect for these iconic characters. However, as we focus on our future, it's important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers," said Lee.
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