Although a comic strip first introduced to the world way back in the 1950s, and many of its original fans now in their 60s and 70s, Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts gang is making its way into the hearts of a new generation. Much of the cartoon’s current success is no doubt due to the easily relatable trials of Charlie Brown and the anticipated release of The Peanuts Movie. However, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the gang have also been successful at using social media to reach Millennials.
One of the first indications that the Peanuts characters were ready to conquer social media appeared on Facebook as the “Peanutizer,” which allowed your friends and family members to turn themselves into a Peanuts cartoon avatar. (If you weren’t familiar with the characters or had forgotten about them, you were quickly brought up to speed when the characters started rolling through your Facebook feed.)
However, the Peanuts characters actually managed to tackle and dominate various platforms, something that other old-school cartoons like Scooby-Doo and Garfield may have missed. As part of a 20th Century Fox sponsorship of Snapchat’s new Lenses feature, they launched a Snapchat promo on Halloween referred to as the “Peanuts” lens. The lens allowed users to animate their selfies with candy corn, a dancing Snoopy and Woodstock, or to the tune of Peanuts’ famous “Linus and Lucy” theme. Fox also sponsored Peanuts-themed overlays which framed Snaps with Peanuts characters.
In August, Neil Cole, chairman and CEO of Iconix, the company that purchased the brand from the Schulz estate, told Wired, “Since taking over ownership of Peanuts, our overall strategic goal has been to continue to make the brand relevant to younger generations.” With this goal came mobile games, e-books, and digital apps designed to propel the gang into the 21st-century. But, the most effective part of the campaign may have been in its social media efforts. Everyone’s favorite beagle, Snoopy, got his own Twitter account, which currently claims 468,000 followers. The official Snoopy and Peanuts Gang Instagram has 1.2 million followers (the Peanuts Movie itself only has 157,000 followers), and Peanuts Worldwide is on Pinterest with 23,000 followers if you want to catch up on comic strips or Peanuts memorabilia.
It seems the social media efforts have successfully reached not just the original fans of the characters but also newcomers who appreciate Snoopy’s antics and Charlie Brown’s failures. While the new Charlie Brown succeeds in making friends in social media, we continue to root for the world’s most famous underdog, to one day succeed at football kicking, kite-flying, and Christmas tree decorating as well.