Kobe Bryant death spurs Planters to pause promo of Mr. Peanut funeral ads

The commercials showing the mascot's presumed death and funeral are still expected to run during the Super Bowl.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
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After the shocking news of basketball star Kobe Bryant's death in a helicopter crash on Sunday, snack food company Planters has decided to pause promotion of its Super Bowl ad campaign in which mascot Mr. Peanut apparently dies in a fiery explosion. 

The campaign itself is still scheduled to run on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, with one ad airing before the big game and a funeral for the character airing during the game's third quarter.

"We wanted you to know that we are saddened by this weekend's news and Planters has paused all campaign activities, including paid media, and will evaluate next steps through a lens of sensitivity to those impacted by this tragedy," a Planters spokesperson said in a statement.

In the first ad, the company's monocled mascot is involved in a car crash with actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh. The three end up hanging from a branch that begins to give way, and Mr. Peanut lets go to save the actors. Once he falls, the peanut-shaped car which he falls on explodes in a fireball, and the text "Mr. Peanut 1916-2020" is shown on screen.

Many Super Bowl commercials have already been released or hinted at, and Mr. Peanut's "death" earned numerous memes and jokes on social media.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in the crash in Calabasas, California. Fans gathered outside Staples Center in Los Angeles to mourn the deaths, and Bryant was honored with numerous tributes at Sunday night's Grammy Awards.