MetLife has handed Snoopy his walking papers.
The insurer with major Charlotte operations said Thursday that it’s phasing out the cartoon dog and the rest of the Peanuts Gang from its marketing, which has included television commercials and even Snoopy-emblazoned blimps.
The New York-based company said the move is the “most significant change” in its brand in 30 years. For its tag line, the company will now use: “MetLife. Navigating life together.” The company plans to start displaying a new logo that includes a green and blue M next year.
“We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant,” Chief Marketing Officer Esther Lee said in a statement. “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.”
MetLife’s CEO Steve Kandarian has been working this year to reshape the insurance giant. This month, the bank announced a plan to spin off the company’s Charlotte-based U.S. retail business, which it had previously said would be renamed Brighthouse Financial.
The company has said Executive Vice President Eric Steigerwalt will continue to lead the separated unit and that the move will not affect the employee count in Charlotte.
In 2013, MetLife announced plans to consolidate its U.S. retail operations in Charlotte in exchange for millions of dollars in state incentives. The company in March said it now has about 1,500 workers in its Ballantyne office in South Charlotte, where Snoopy has been part of the decor.
Kandarian is seeking to simplify MetLife and limit regulatory oversight, announcing a deal in February to sell an adviser network to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. ahead of new, stricter rules on pitching the products to consumers. He won a court ruling the next month that overturned the government’s designation of MetLife as too big to fail, a tag that could come with stricter capital requirements. The U.S. is appealing the decision.
Brighthouse offers policies with death benefits and also retirement products such as variable annuities, which can provide a lifetime stream of income to customers. While low bond yields or declines in stock values can pressure results, annuities can generate substantial profits when markets are favorable.
Iconix Brand Group, which in 2010 acquired a majority stake in the Peanuts characters, named MetLife first in a list of key Snoopy partners in its most recent annual report.
Bloomberg News contributed