I got a work anniversary card in the mail a few weeks ago. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I ever received one of these before. Bright envelope, handwriting font and a greeting card inside. And, best of all, it has Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
It brought me back to when I was a kid. One of my relatives would send me a “Peanuts” card for my birthday, or some other special occasion. And, like lots of my friends, I loved reading that comic strip every day in the paper.
So, I was a little shocked the other day when I heard that MetLife, the insurance giant, was ending its partnership with the Peanuts characters after 30 years. Although the current contract runs through 2019, the company will roll out new branding starting next year.
MetLife plans to focus more on its corporate clients, like the benefits company that sent me the card.
Consumers? Not so much. That part of the business is getting spun off into a new company.
This all means no more Snoopy One blimp at big golf events, no more hearing Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” during the TV commercials. No more of the Peanuts gang in MetLife’s direct marketing.
It makes sense. A different audience may call for a different face. A new logo and slogan, too.
At the time the company began its partnership back in the 1980s, insurance companies were not seen in the same light they are today. As MetLife CMO Esther Lee said, Snoopy “make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant.”
So maybe it’s the right time.
Everyone has their opinions on how much the insurance industry has changed over the years. I’ll acknowledge that it’s not as stuffy and conservative as it once seemed. Maybe the GEICO gecko, Progressive’s Flo, and Farmers’ Professor Burke have something to do with that as well.
Each character in their own way reinforces the brand messaging of their company and how its products are positioned. And ultimately, each has to help explain in more detail, regardless of the channel, how the prospect gains from becoming a customer.
So, how about it, marketers? Is MetLife making a big mistake? Please share your thoughts below.