5 Lessons for the Church from Mr. Peanut

Kenny Jahng —  2009/01/26 — Leave a comment

I found myself in line at the grocery store in a daze, waiting for my turn to empty the wallet again (Am I the only one noticing that food prices have skyrocketed lately?).

But I suddenly awoke in noticing that the 3 people ahead of me all had these big colorful containers…of Mr. Peanut Dry Roasted Peanuts!  How odd. . .that 3 in a row picked-up the same item.

lessons-for-the-church-from-mr-peanut1

So I quickly turned around and scanned the end-caps for a promotional display. I didn’t find one, but did see the aisle in which peanuts would be found.  I abandoned the line and went in search of Mr. Peanut. Why? Purely because of the packaging.

Sure enough, I found Mr. Peanut and he accompanied me back to the checkout line (yes, I got the same spot in line again).

This impulse buy kept me thinking as I snacked throughout the week. It seemed like just another classic success story in product marketing. “Who better to serve American’s favorite peanuts than Mr. Peanut himself?”

But what I’ve come to understand in my week long relationship with Mr. Peanut is that the Church has something to learn from him:

1. The packaging has personality and is inviting. Which would your hand go for? The sterile metal cylinder peanut packaging or this colorful dimensional Mr. Peanut embodied in the packaging itself? The fact that Kraft/Planters brought the packaging alive clearly got the attention of the four shoppers in line at checkout. No one wants to go to church just to be intimidated or put to sleep week after week in the pews. The Church needs lively, relevant messages within safe environments that engage worshippers with the message, people and God.

2. K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple Smartypants! (sanitized version): The brand has a clear identity and what you expect is what you get. In this case, you expect fresh dry roasted peanuts…and you get fresh dry roasted peanuts. There’s no confusion about the core product being delivered: For example, I’m sure you could envision the messy co-marketing brand tie-in if I pitched a “Tabasco™ brand flavored HOT! Mr. Peanut peanut snack.” Likewise, the product is not watered down by including “filler” or other distracting “mix items” in the jar. There’s no pretzels, different nuts or dried fruit in the jar. Nope, none of this type of clutter or distracting message here. The basic peanut is good enough to satisfy any peanut craving stomach. If every church helped meet the need for clarity in terms of what a visitor should expect when they visit a worship service, more people would flow through the doors each Sunday. This includes having confidence that Scripture-based Gospel-centered messages will appeal to and keep the attention of those in the pews.

3. Mr. Peanut stands out and is a conversation starter. Almost every person that saw Mr. Peanut made a comment and/or asked me to share some peanuts with them. The packaging is distinct and makes itself accessible to people – enough to proactively ask about it. Our Church must pay attention to equipping its members in standing out in a way that invites others to start dialogue about faith and The Gospel.

4. I think it’s the Doritos package that actually claims “you can’t have just one”, but Mr. Peanut definitely works the same results leaving people to come back for more. I’m sure the next time each of the Mr. Peanut shoppers comes back to the grocery store for more Peanuts, they’ll be on the lookout for Mr. Peanut again to reconnect and extend the previous experience they had. If things are being done well, people who are exposed to the Church through worship, fellowship or ministries will want to come back for more.

5. Mr. Peanut is my go-to guy for peanuts because this experience demonstrated the brand is creative at the core. Whether it’s the irreverent note on the transparent part of the label shouting “Time to rush to the store!” when the peanuts are approaching “gone” or the packaging itself, Planters took a commodity and brought it alive enough to make it memorable even with a call to action that doesn’t make you pause when you read it.  The Church definitely can use some re-examination to determine if there are any fresh ways in connecting with the people in a similar manner – alive, memorable and actionable.


Ok, it’s time to hear from the peanut gallery (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) – join the conversation and let me know if you see any other lessons from Mr. Peanut worth sharing by leaving a comment!

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