MetLife is firing Snoopy.
After more than 30 years of appearing in print ads, TV commercials, marketing materials and on the sides of MetLife’s blimps at sports events, the company is showing the door to the “Peanuts” character, one of the most recognizable figures in American pop culture.
No more big-nosed beagle in the flight cap and goggles chasing the Red Baron on Metlife’s airship. No more television commercials featuring a smiling Snoopy navigating life’s treacherous waters to sell insurance. Cuddly Snoopy hitting a home run? Out.
MetLife, one of the largest insurance companies in the world with 100 million customers worldwide, said the move is part of an effort to update its corporate emblem for international competition.
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The global chief marketing officer for MetLife, Esther Lee, announced the change on Thursday, saying that Snoopy was adopted as a symbol in 1985 to make the company seem “more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant.”
“We have great respect for these iconic characters,” Lee said in the announcement. “However, as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”
The company said it wanted a “clean, modern” design that included the colors blue and green to “represent life, renewal and energy.” They form what the company has called “the partnership M.” The broader MetLife brand palette was expanded to include a range of vibrant secondary colors, reflecting “the diverse lives of its customers,” a company statement said.
There is also a new tagline, “MetLife: Navigating life together,” replacing the old “Get Met. It Pays.”
Already, the company’s website shows no sign of the floppy-eared dog whose adventurous daydreams won the hearts of multiple generations of Americans, in the Charles M. Shulz comic strip and its spinoffs.
In the comics, on TV and movies, a hit pop song and even the stage, Snoopy was the loyal pup who loved his “round-headed” human, Charlie Brown, but could never remember the boy’s name. His rich fantasy life included characters like “Joe Cool,” a hipster in dark sunglasses, and the World War I flying ace whose doghouse was transformed into a British biplane.
But now Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel are grounded, at least when it comes to selling life insurance.
The company called the decision the “most significant change” to the brand in decades. Lee conducted research among more than 55,000 customers worldwide and found them “overwhelmed” by the pace of global change. MetLife had to evolve, Lee said.
According to the research, “People are indifferent from us moving away from the characters,” Lee said, adding that more than 1,000 other brands around the world use Peanuts characters in their marketing. “They basically don’t care.”