See you, Snoopy: why insurance co. is saying goodbye to cartoons

Jacquelyn Thomas, a marketing professor at SMU, talks about MetLife's decision to drop Snoopy.

By Ben Rosen
The Christian Science Monitor

MetLife has said “good grief” to its beagle mascot and the rest of the Peanuts gang, ending a 31-year relationship with the world-famous cartoon characters.

The insurance giant announced on Thursday Snoopy will no longer be its mascot, as it rebrands itself with a new logo and tagline starting in 2017, and parts ways with most of its consumer-based life insurance in the United States.

MetLife seized in 1985 on the nostalgic appeal of Snoopy, Charlie, Linus, and Lucy when it started to use the characters in life insurance ads, business cards, and even blimps. But warm memories of the mischievous beagle and holidays spent watching Charlie Brown specials have dissipated from generation to generation, with the disappearance of Saturday-morning cartoons, and the rise of streaming services. ... 

Jacquelyn Thomas, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University in Texas, adds that a cartoon mascot like Snoopy also doesn’t come with the risks a celebrity does. A fictional cartoon won’t create a public-relations nightmare because of a controversial comment or an arrest.

But Dr. Thomas tells the Monitor in a phone interview she recently realized Snoopy’s age when an “All” laundry commercial that featured children who resembled the Peanuts gang played on TV. Thomas asked her 10-year-old daughter if she knew what the ad referred to.

“Do Millennials, as an example, relate to Snoopy? They probably don’t,” says Thomas.

And as she points out, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang likely came at a heavy cost for MetLife. The insurer is estimated to have paid $12 to $15 million annually under its new contract to use Snoopy as its mascot, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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