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Wonderful Pistachios competes for marketing mascot fame on mobile

The Wonderful Company is spearheading the most expensive campaign in its history with the help of WWE wrestler John Cena and NFL star Richard Sherman.

The $55 million campaign coincides with the largest pistachio crop in history, a whopping 800 million pound harvest. In response to the boon, Wonderful Pistachios has crafted a new animated mascot, Ernie the Elephant, voiced by Mr. Cena and featured in ten mobile-optimized videos that will be aired over the coming months, paired with a series of digital videos starring Mr. Sherman on the health benefits of pistachios.

?Social media is a perfect way to extend and build upon traditional advertising campaigns,? said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP

?The Wonderful Company can repurpose its TV and print ads across its social media platforms to magnify the reach to all of their fans and their friends when followers ?like? the messages. 

?Since more Internet usage now occurs on mobile devices than desktop or laptop computers, it is imperative that all campaigns are designed for mobile viewing and interaction. Exposure to these campaigns on consumers? phones, while they are shopping, might influence impulse purchases, especially if they are in, or near, a store that sells Wonderful Pistachios.?

Sea change
Wonderful Pistachios, which has historically been more explicitly celebrity-driven in its marketing approach, looks to be using the record-setting crop as a watershed in its advertising approach. The Ernie the Elephant mascot gives consumers an image to attach to the brand within a market inundated with similar mascots, such as Planters? Mr. Peanut character. 

Ernie the Elephant, Wonderful Pistachios' new mascot

The spots feature some of the same irreverent humor that has brought Wonderful Pistachios advertising fame in the past, with some of Ernie?s quips bordering on the blue. The campaign?s ability to move forward while still staying on brand is the result of Wonderful Pistachios? continued recruitment of its in-house creative team, Wonderful Agency, for content creation.

And with so many resources at play, Wonderful Pistachios are aiming their sights high, targeting the massive professional football viewing audience by debuting two commercials during Monday Night Football. The partnership with Mr. Sherman? the controversial cornerback who is quickly becoming one of the most marketable players in the league? cements its commitment to the market.

Additional spots feature Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman

Continuing legacy
The massive investment into Ernie the Elephant?s rollout could reflect The Wonderful Company?s acknowledgement that its agricultural fortune may not persist indefinitely. The company has come under fire for growing water-intensive nuts in California?s Central Valley in the midst of a statewide drought, with its pistachios and almonds being the most egregious offenders. 

By lowering prices and unveiling an advertising pivot, The Wonderful Company looks to fully capitalize on its luck while working on long term solutions to its water problem such as its $25 million dollar investment into responsible water management practices.

Investing in a mascot provides an anchor for a brand that wishes to operate within a crowded social media space. Starkist recently used the election as the subject for its latest effort in mascot-based advertising, debuting a new social campaign that seeks to find a running mate for its mascot, Charlie the Tuna (see story).

Last year, Trix undertook a mobile-driven campaign to find a real rabbit to represent the cereal and drive awareness of a new initiative to remove artificial flavors and colors (see story).

?Leveraging the celebrity cameos from Richard Sherman and Ernie the Elephant on social media will reinforce the association with the brand and maintain the consistency of the campaign?s message,? Mr. Naumann said. 

?The Wonderful Company should also consider augmenting the campaigns with games or contests with their followers that further engage their customers and help the brand resonate with the general public. Consumer generated photos or videos that are extremely creative can go viral and result in ?free? advertising that attracts more passionate followers.?