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Nothing Lost in Translation

As I sat down to write about Bill Murray’s Super Bowl spot and Korea’s Oscar milestone, this is one of those headlines that wrote itself.

Okay, enough gloating.

You know who wouldn’t gloat? Bill Murray.

He should though. There are few comic actors who connect with people on an individual level through such a range of misery and joy as he does. In the “Groundhog Day” sequel, we skipped over the misery.

CNBC described how the ad came together. You could say the ad took years or days depending on how you define it. Relationships matter. So does asking for what you want, especially when you do so in a way that is tailored to the recipient.

Last week, I also wrote about how parody ads fell flat. Somehow, I neglected to mention Baby Nut.

Baby Nut wasn’t my favorite ad. It was a smart PR campaign, getting way more attention than it should have, especially since there wasn’t a product launch or any other significant announcement. Jeep got Bill Murray to recreate a classic film on the perfect day, Hyundai got to tout autonomous parking (I have no clue if that’s even a new feature), and Google helped a fictional man keep his wife’s memory alive. While Google was saving a fictional elderly guy, Planters was killing off a fictional elderly peanut, and then reincarnating it.

Planters continues to pour money into Baby Nut. I keep seeing @mrpeanut promote Baby Nut posts on Twitter. It doesn’t seem to be extending any popularity to the owner of @planters, a cryptocurrency enthusiast from the Netherlands with 230 followers.

What’s most impressive with Planters is that it upstaged Disney at its own game. While Disney couldn’t get any Baby Yoda merchandise in stores for the holiday season, Planters has a Baby Nut store that it keeps plugging. It is selling socks for $28, or approximately the cost of 192 1-oz packs of salted Planters peanuts on Amazon. Maybe the model wearing the Baby Nut Peekaboo Pocket Tee whose right arm is covered in tattoos is wearing the tee ironically? I can’t see him wearing that tee when he’s out downing White Claw at the axe-throwing bar.

There are two things the Baby Nut store does well: the cursor turns into Baby Nut, and when you roll over merch, Baby Nut pops up from behind the products. I still don’t get the long-term play here, but I’ve thought way too much about this. I had no problem with Planters sticking with a giant peanut wearing a monocle and sporting a cane and spats. I still sometimes eat cereal with a leprechaun on the box, and my favorite cereal that I only discovered as an adult features a pink version of a 19th-century horror icon on the box. Baby Nut is getting under my skin.

I hope I don’t have to write any more about Baby Nut, though I will if the app breaks down in the Democratic Nevada primary and Baby Nut somehow wins the whole thing.

Speaking of surprises, I’m behind on seeing movies so I haven’t caught “Parasite,” and I didn’t watch the Academy Awards. Still, I love that language is no longer a barrier for earning Hollywood’s top honor. Great stories come from everywhere, as does the talent to bring those stories to life. Cheers to Bong Joon-ho; in his honor, I hope to soon enjoy a glass of makgeolli (my favorite adult beverage).

This column was originally published in the newsletter. While I share the introductory column here, other updates such as jobs, events, and commentary on news are exclusively available to subscribers. Sign up now to make sure you receive it.

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