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Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)

  Melissa Menta is the SVP of Marketing for Peanuts, those immortal Charles Schulz characters who started out as a daily newspaper comic strip and became a global phenomenon when they captured the imaginations of billions. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and their friends are now being placed in a range of media to highlight what we can do to improve the world. Here is what Melissa had to say about this initiative.

Can you sum up the ideas behind Take Care with Peanuts for those who might not know about it?

In 2019, we were thinking about the brand's 70th anniversary in 2020, and where we wanted to take the brand as we looked ahead to the 75th. In talking with a number of our global partners, some of the messages that came up again and again were the themes that came to be the pillars of Take Care: environmental responsibility, self care, and extending kindness to others. Those are all present in the Peanuts comic strip, so it made sense to build out this initiative which encourages fans aroumd the world to Take Care of the Earth, Take Care of Each Other, and Take Care of Yourself.

Why did Peanuts believe Charlie Brown and friends were perfect to deliver these positive messages?

One of the special things about Peanuts is the way that Charles Schulz was able to communicate the human experience in a 4 panel comic strip. Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang are kids, but they give voice to emotions and real life experiences that are truly universal. At this point, Peanuts has been a part of many people's daily lives for generations, so the characters have a familiarity and authenticity that also helps to promote these messages.

How do you go about choosing the subjects for these short animations?

When we first started thinking about the three core pillars of Take Care, we talked about all of the different ways that each could take shape. So, what does it look like to Take Care of the Earth? We thought about things like recycling, planting gardens, experiencing nature through hiking, and other examples. So through the videos we're able to explore all of those different ways we can Take Care. We are lucky to be able to work closely with our studio team in Toronto and Vancouver to help develop these ideas into these sweet messages that resonate around the world.
How do you cast the characters' voices?  They have traditionally had very distinctive ones for each character.

The characters are cast with the original television specials in mind. Here in the US, fans are so familiar with A Charlie Brown Christmas that it's important to cast in keeping with that style.
How long will this campaign last?  Are you full of ideas about where to take it next? 

We are absolutely full of ideas of what comes next for Take Care! The great thing about this initiative is that we wanted to develop something with long legs, and we feel that this will lead us up to Peanuts' 75th anniversary in 2025, but it may even live on beyond that.
Will there be any more Peanuts television specials or big screen movies?

With Apple TV+ as the home of Peanuts' content, we have a great hub for different types of Peanuts materials. The recently released documentary, "Who Are You, Charlie Brown?" gets into the longlasting impact of Charles Schulz and his characters. "Snoopy in Space" takes viewers on a journey full of fun and interesting STEM education. And "The Snoopy Show," which will return later this summer, captures the heartwarming elements of the comic strip, including a number of episodes that contain Take Care-related messaging.
Is it important to your messages that Snoopy and friends are recognised across the generations, young and old and in between?

Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and the rest of the gang have been a part of so many lives from childhood and we are always working to ensure that they are a part of the next generation's experience as well. The messages of Take Care resonate with people of all ages, and we hope that children and adults engage with the themes.

How important is it to stay true to the spirit of Charles M. Schulz and how do you make sure you are?

Charles Schulz wrote a daily comic strip for 50 years, one of the longest stories ever told by an individual. We have almost 18,000 strips that we can look to for inspiration and we go back to the library any time we start a new initiative. Going back to where it all started keeps the brand grounded and authentic.

You like to think Charles Schulz would be delighted to know his characters were being employed in such a positive way, so watch out for the Take Care with Peanuts initiative, Charlie Brown just wants to help! Many thanks to Melissa for answering out questions, and best of luck with the project, may it last years.

Author: Graeme Clark.


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Last Updated: 31 March, 2018