Tag Archives: budweiser

A blast from the past

I created this ad for Budweiser back in 2000.  It debuted on the Superbowl and actually was the very first spot in the very first commercial break of the game itself.

It’s a parody of every dog food ad you’ve ever seen where the happy owner romps with his pet in a meadow, while the owner’s voiceover talks about his love for his pooch.

I hadn’t seen it years and was kind of surprised to see someone had put it on youtube.  we had great fun making it.  it still makes me laugh.  hope you like it.

The enduring appeal of sticking out one’s tongue and shouting “Wassup!”

It’s back.  I guess enough time has passed for the culture to have gotten over its Wassup! overdose in 2000.

The latest viral video charts show Wassup2008 at number one and the original Budweiser Wassup ad climbing up the charts at number 11.  Oh dear!

I can remember emerging slightly shell-shocked from the editing suite after we filmed the first Wassup! spots.  I’d listened to the phrase constantly for a week and was understandably heartily sick of hearing it.  So when people would come up to me and tell me, months later, how sick they were of hearing the phrase, i would nod politely and, in my head, go “Tell me about it pal!”.  I was arguably the first Wassup! burnout.

Like anything that is conspicuously successful, the whole Wassup! pop cultural phenomenon was written about and analyzed endlessly by the media at the time.  I recall being surprised about how blase i had become about being interviewed about the same thing over and over and over.  Lots of writers pointed out how the spots were great representations of male bonding etc…etc.

But for me the thing that made the whole thing work was much more basic.  And it was this.  When you screamed Wassuuuuuuup! a little bit of nervous energy left your upper body.  And you actually felt slightly better for saying it.  In much the same way that saying “IS NICE!!!” Borat-style is slightly cathartic.  It’s the same principle, physiologically speaking.

Go on, try saying both catchphrases.  You’ll feel better!

Mr. Feldwick’s theory about not making sense actually does makes sense. Scientifically speaking.

As we posted previously, we agree with Paul Feldwick’s theory about advertising that “doesn’t make sense” being more effective. Then we remembered something from last year we read in Adweek.

Some egghead boffin types hooked up volunteers’ brains to neurological analyzing machines. And played them commercials to see which types of ads tickled the brainbox most effectively

“We were trying to identify patterns that could be used,” said Bill Cook, svp, research and standards, ARF. “We saw powerful pieces of evidence for the impact of advertising.”

One such pattern was that a campaign like Bud’s iconic “Wassup” registered more powerfully with consumers than Miller Lite low-carb ads that essentially just said, “We’re better than the other guys.” Why? Because Bud told a story about friends connected by a special greeting.

Stop making sense!


Scamp (the UK’s premier ad blogger) recently posted about a study by Paul Feldwick. The gist of it is that advertisers miss because they aim for the consumer’s head (the rational) instead of the heart (the emotional/the irrational)

“We know brand preferences usually aren’t rational,” he says, “and yet we still persist in trying to put rational messages into our advertising.”

And one of the campaigns he references in his analysis is our very own Budweiser Whassup! campaign.

( i have cut and selectively pasted the following from his presentation)

..And here’s a TV commercial from a different brand.



Yo. So.

No indeed, just watching the game, havin a Bud …

True, true.



Yeah what’s that?

Yo, pick up the phone.


Wazza aahhh

Yo – where’s dukie?



Hello, hello? So what’s up

Watching the game, having a Bud.

True, True.


In both these cases it’s very hard, I think it’s actually impossible to analyse exactly how and why they make their effect. That doesn’t stop us trying and people often come out with their own answers but I think really it it’s what defies analysis…

Successful and truly creative ads, I think work in quite a different way. If we pretend that advertising is predominantly digital, then we’ll feel justified in thinking of any ad as being reducible to an intellectual, verbal construct, a message or a proposition or an idea. But if we understand that the important relationship building communication is taking place through the analogue mode, then we should really change our focus away from this abstract digital idea, back to the visual, visceral power of the entire advertisement; its colour, movement, music, timing and every detail.

TV ads work I believe, through the analogue mode where emotional engagement is created through the actual sights and sounds of the commercial. And great ads, like great works of art don’t have to be very obviously original. Like great works of art, they don’t have to have much to do with a single reductionist idea. They work as aesthetic wholes.


…Which is funny because back when I came up with the idea for the Budweiser Whassup! campaign, i remember loving it for its “wrongness”. it was both completely right and completely wrong. beer ads are supposed to be big, entertaining broadly comedic gagfests. The whassup! ads were real and chilled out. And nothing important or particularly funny happened. I remember typing up the scripts for the first round of scripts and feeling a little guilty at how little actually happened in what we were going to shoot. but none of that mattered. because the rightness outweighed the wrongness. you just liked it. it overwhelmed you. it didn’t ask you to please like it. it was confident and it was different. regular beer ads start life as advertising. whassup! didn’t. it started as a labor of love by Charles Stone. so it had a different energy. an energy we harnessed and redirected.

Whassup was an “aesthetic whole” as Mr. Feldwick might say.

Whassup with Obama?

Race is still an undeniable factor in this country. But how much of a factor is it still in 2008? Well, maybe not as much as you might think.

Back in 2000 when we were in the midst of the Budweiser Whassup! phenomenon there was a brief moment when the client received a lot of criticism from, ironically, both sides of the racial divide. White racists were offended that Budweiser would use African-Americans in their commercials for some reason. And some African-American groups were offended because they thought were using young African-American males in a manner that was (to them) demeaning and offensive. A la Amos and Andy. I believe the term is “minstrelsy”. Which was never our intent. And, our idea was based on a short film by a respected African-American film-maker: Charles Stone. Who also directed the commercials that starred him and his friends.

What both groups had in common was this. THEY WERE OLD.

Old white angry whiskey-sippin’ white guys and old angry whiskey-sippin’ african-americans. Neither of whom drank a whole lot of Budweiser.

And who was digging the Whassup campaign? Mostly young white guys who had swallowed hip-hop culture whole. And for whom racism was an alien concept. They loved Jay-Z and Biggie and Tupac.

Consequently, the decision was made to continue the Whassup campaign, based on the mathematics and demographics. Racists are old. Beer drinkers are young.

Racism in America is literally dying out. Great news. For Obama.