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Mr. Peanut's fiery end turns into social gold for Planters

Kraft Heinz's decision to say goodbye to Mr. Peanut garnered media attention that far outweighed the cost of the spot.
Image: Mr. Peanut
Mr. Peanut, RIP.Kraft Foods file

Kraft Heinz has scored the first coup of the Super Bowl advertising season, generating blanket news and social coverage with a video featuring the apparent death of its 104-year-old brand icon, Mr. Peanut.

The ad, which also includes actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh, even led Town & Country to ponder whether Mr. Peanut’s death was a sign of class warfare. The video also has generated more than 3 million views on YouTube in two days.

All that coverage adds up to be worth an estimated $13.7 million in equivalent brand value, according to the Apex Marketing Group. That would more than cover the cost of the Super Bowl commercial’s airtime which Fox is selling for an estimated $5.6 million. A second spot showing the funeral of Mr. Peanut is scheduled to run on Feb. 2, during the game.

The Super Bowl and the attendant commercials attract an audience that exceeds 90 million viewers each year.

Apex looked at other spots that have also received wide attention after being released early. A Doritos teaser spot featuring actor Sam Elliott garnered $1.8 million in brand value over the same two-day period with its 4.2 million YouTube views. A Cheetos teaser featuring MC Hammer drew an estimated $1.5 million in value and 3.36 million YouTube views as of Friday afternoon.

“Critics have disagreed in the past about brands releasing the Super Bowl commercials prior to them airing during the big game, but Planters has proved them wrong, showing how the lead-up to the game can be just as valuable as the airing of their spot during the game," Eric Smallwood, president at Apex, told NBC News.

VaynerMedia, which handled the spot, told CNBC that the concept was aimed at exploring how the public connects with the death of fictional characters.

“When Iron Man died, we saw an incredible reaction on Twitter and on social media," Mike Pierantozzi, group creative director, told CNBC. “It’s a strange phenomenon."