Four film, one campaign.
Sales of Heineken are not high enough, so the makers of the ad have an excruciating punishment in store magician Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie singing a syrupy duet, off-key, on a kitsch set. As the pair tunelessly croon “Close to You” a strapline appears: “Buy a pint of Heineken, or we’ll keep running this commercial”. The second ad opens with the line, “It seems some people didn’t takes the last Heineken commercial seriously. Perhaps this might persuade them”, and, as if by magic, Vanessa Feltz and Peter Stringfellow drop from the sky dressed as angels and join in the song. The words “Remember, buy Heineken or we’ll keep running these commercials” close the second ad. But it is the third execution that causes the most belly laughs. With the strapline “Good news. Sales of Heineken have risen dramatically, but not dramatically enough”, Emmerdale’s Lisa Riley and “It” girl Tamara Beckwith sing along while cuddling up to Jimmy Saville with Jimmy Hill marching past playing, very badly, the trumpet.. Finally, in the fourth execution (literally), sales of Heineken have risen… so two lion are sent on stage to devour the performers.
How refresh. How Heineken.
“Heineken advertising typically shows the brand providing a refreshing twist by “blackmailing” people into drinking more beer,” said Iain Newell, the marketing manager at Heineken. “Of course the ads are pretending to be irritating but in fact they are very funny.”
Advertising Agency: Lowe Lintas, London
Creative Director: Charles Inge
Copywriter: Terry Barry
Art Director: Damon Collins
Production Company: Gorgeous Enterprises
Director: Chris Palmer
Newcastle Brown Ale announces today an out of home advertising campaign so innovative that it truly lives up to the beer’s nickname: “The One and Only.” Building on Newcastle’s highly successful appeal to “Taste the Lighter Side of Dark,” three branded public art projects will debut this summer in San Diego – all designed to get people talking, texting, posting and “checking in,” as they check out what Newcastle has to offer. The curtain lifts on the first project “Trapped in a Schooner” at the historic Del Mar Racetrack in time for opening day, July 20th.
“Trapped in a Schooner” will entertain race fans through an optical illusion. One person stands in a special location, while another climbs inside a larger than life replica of Newcastle’s traditional glass, the Geordie Schooner. The effect: it looks like they are trapped in a giant pint of Newcastle Brown Ale (what a pity).
“Newcastle Brown Ale is all about breaking conventions. It’s a dark beer that’s surprisingly easy to drink. And this campaign is all about doing something that goes way beyond conventional advertising,” says Charles Van Es, Director for Newcastle Brown Ale. “Our drinkers won’t settle for an ordinary ale, and we wanted to give them something extraordinary this summer, with these engaging, one of a kind projects.”
From the race track to the pubs, Newcastle Brown Ale will be encouraging fans and friends to post pictures of the Summer Spectaculars to their personal social media networks. Foursquare check-ins at the Schooner installation will also be rewarded with special Newcastle Brown Ale merchandise, furthering the buzz and word of mouth value of these projects.
“We think the guys who drink Newcastle, are a bit different. As a discovery brand, the consumers who order a Newcastle make a conscious choice to stand apart from the perceptions that most domestic beers thrive upon, so it was important for our out-of-home to reflect the sense surprise people have when they try our ale…in other words “it’s not what you might have first thought”, adds John Vitro, Executive Creative Director. “By getting people to engage and participate in the marketing we have the chance to express the wit, intelligence and wry smile that could only come from a British import like Newcastle.”
Advertising Agency: Vitro, San Diego
Executive Creative Director: John Vitro
Creative Director: KT Thayer
Art Director: Paul Lambert, Kevin Lukens
Copywriter: Schuyler Vanden Bergh
In December 1999 Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., had the two best-selling beers in the United States and more than double the market share of any competitor. Despite a decade-long decline in sales, Budweiser, the company’s flagship brew, remained the country’s most popular alcoholic beverage, although, thanks largely to the growing consumer preference for reduced-calorie beer, Bud Light was poised to overtake the ‘‘King of Beers.’’
Anheuser-Busch already had the industry’s biggest and most successful advertising presence, but the Budweiser television campaign called ‘‘Whassup?!’’ resonated with a new, more youthful audience and became not just an industry award winner but also a pop-culture phenomenon.
The idea behind the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ commercials, developed for Anheuser-Busch by DDB Worldwide Chicago, was simple. In the initial spot, called ‘‘Whassup True,’’ four male friends, speaking over the phone, greeted one another with the slang phrase ‘‘Whassup?!’’ The answer— ‘‘Watching the game. Having a Bud’’— elicited the response ‘‘True, true,’’ before the conversation escalated into a chorus of ‘‘Whassups?!’’ delivered with mouths open, tongues protruding, and an air of intense glee.
‘‘It didn’t feel like advertising,’’ said DDB’s Don Pogany. ‘‘It seemed different than anything else. And it seemed to be totally what Bud is about: camaraderie and friendship and what guys do.’’ A second spot aired during the 2000 Super Bowl, and several more featuring the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ guys aired later in the winter. Each of the spots ended with the Budweiser logo against a black background and the tagline ‘‘True.’’
Within a few months of the campaign’s introduction, unauthorized Internet parodies began to appear that featured people in the news, cartoon superheroes, and many others greeting one another with innumerable variations on ‘‘Whassup?!’’ Disc jockeys and late-night talkshow hosts began saying ‘‘Whassup?!’’ and soon it became a common greeting and a pop-culture phrase around the world, even in countries where Budweiser was not sold. The initial campaign won nearly every major industry award, and later installments continued to win awards. ‘‘Whassup?!’’ ran through 2001 and was then developed into a more expansive campaign called ‘‘True,’’ in which the tagline from the original commercials was interpreted in new ways meant to show beer drinkers that Budweiser understood them and their lives.
Anheuser-Busch expected the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ ads to resonate across demographic lines within the 21- to 27-yearold segment of the population, an essential part of Budweiser’s larger target market of all legal-age drinkers. Not only did this segment of young adults account for a disproportionate percentage of beer sales relative to other adults, its brand loyalties had presumably not yet been formed. The spots featured a mostly African-American cast, and the campaign’s central verbal exchange was based on slang terms used in minority communities, although the universal principles of friendship that were displayed had the power, Anheuser-Busch believed, to attract young viewers across racial, ethnic, and gender divides. Barbara Lippert argued in Adweek that the ads were about ‘‘feeling so connected to your best buds you can watch TV together through the phone. And that while you are supposedly ‘chillin,’ you are all maniacally dialing each other.’’
Anheuser-Busch, however, wanted to avoid alienating older customers who did not understand the significance of the characters’ boisterous attitudes and protruding tongues. When a group of wholesalers expressed their disapproval of the emerging campaign, Lachky and Busch decided not to continue to air the original version but to showcase ‘‘Whassup?!’’ spots that relied on individual narratives and thereby helped viewers make sense of the characters. They also decided to trim the 60-second spots to 30 seconds in order to reduce the amount of time occupied by the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ ritual itself. Soon Internet parodies began, and the campaign attracted mainstream media attention. Once ‘‘Whassup?!’’ became part of the pop-culture vocabulary, the campaign had an air of widespread public validation that overcame all demographic divisions. As Advertising Age put it, ‘‘Any advertising that bridges generation gaps so that even our mothers are leaving ‘Whassup?!’ messages on our answering machines must be a good one.’’
THE QUESTION OF ORIGIN
After ‘‘Whassup?!’’ had won both the Grand Clio and the Cannes Grand Prix in 2000, there were complaints within the advertising industry. Some felt that it was inappropriate to give the industry’s highest honors to a campaign that had not originally come from an advertising agency at all. The idea, of course, was Charles Stone III’s, and the initial spot was similar to his independent film True. But Stone was not himself the sole author of the idea. ‘‘Whassup?!’’ was a greeting that he and his friends had been using with one another since 1984.
‘‘Whassup?!’’ had its genesis outside the advertising world in a short film called True, created by music-video director Charles Stone III as a means of trying to break into feature films. A DDB creative director discovered True and immediately recommended it to his supervisor as suitable for a Budweiser advertisement. The film, which became ‘‘Whassup True’’ after minor adjustments in content, featured Stone and three of his friends. Stone himself was tapped to direct and to act in the series of commercials DDB began scripting, and though roughly 80 other actors were auditioned for the parts of Stone’s friends, with one exception DDB hired the real-life friends to play themselves. Stone worried that the slang response ‘‘True’’ might need to be scrapped in favor of a more mainstream line like ‘‘Right on,’’ but Anheuser-Busch’s Lachky recognized the trend setting potential of the original.
‘‘Whassup True’’ originally aired with little fanfare on sports programming in December 1999. The 60-second commercial was a hit with the 21- to 27-yearold demographic, but for the 2000 Super Bowl Anheuser-Busch chose the shorter and less risky ‘‘Girlfriend,’’ in which one of the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ friends answered the phone in characteristic fashion while trying not to let on that the ‘‘game’’ he was watching with his girlfriend was actually a figure-skating competition. Other spots in the original campaign included one in which a pizza deliverer was mistaken for a friend and subjected, over an apartment-building intercom, to the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ routine. The spots eventually ran during sports programming, as well as prime-time and late-night shows.
After Internet parodies and media attention became widespread, ‘‘Whassup?!’’ was at risk of becoming overexposed, and Anheuser-Busch and DDB worked to keep the campaign fresh by running their own spoofs. In ‘‘Come Home’’ an alien, returning to his home planet after infiltrating Earth in the guise of a dog, was asked by his ruler what he had learned from his time among humans. After a short pause the alien declared, mouth wide and tongue lolling, ‘‘Whassup?!’’ In addition, DDB created a unique hybrid commercial called ‘‘Language Tape,’’ in which a professor-like character directed viewers to Budweiser.com, where they could learn how to say ‘‘Whassup?!’’ in 36 different languages. Website traffic increased to 1.265 million visitors per month, compared to the previous year’s average of 400,000.
Anheuser-Busch and DDB went on to run commercials featuring New Jersey men bearing a strong resemblance to characters on the hit television show The Sopranos, who said, ‘‘Howyoudoin,’’ instead of ‘‘Whassup?!’’ After this final twist on the original idea, Budweiser’s advertising agencies, along with its in-house marketing team, began producing various television spots that more broadly interpreted the tagline ‘‘True.’’ These spots included story lines offering honest and affectionate reflections on gender differences and male behavior, commercials with a focus on product quality, and several series of vignettes, such as the well-known ‘‘Leon’’ commercials, which revolved around the comical exploits of an extremely self-centered professional football player.
DDB Worldwide Chicago claimed to have pioneered the concept of ‘‘talk value,’’ that elusive quality that makes advertising campaigns and phrases cultural touchstones, but the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ campaign far exceeded the agency’s and Anheuser-Busch’s expectations. The phrase appeared as a headline on the cover of Forbes, and the commercials were parodied on Saturday Night Live in addition to being mentioned countless times in the media while being spread around the world via more than 80 homemade Internet parodies. At the 2000 Grammy Awards performers Christina Aguilera and LeVar Burton imitated the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ commercials on the red carpet, and during that year’s NBA season the Sacramento Kings gave a collective cry of ‘‘Whassup?!’’ after each team huddle.
Whassup?! /Scary Movie
Whassup?!/Super Mario Bros
Whassup?!/Bin Laden & George Bush
‘‘Whassup?!’’ was one of the most acclaimed and popular campaigns in advertising history. It won nearly every major award in the industry, including the prestigious Grand Clio and the Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France. During the second year of the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ campaign, Busch was named Advertiser of the Year at the Cannes festival. The campaign’s signature phrase earned comparisons to classic advertising phrases like Wendy’s ‘‘Where’s the Beef ?’’ and Nike’s ‘‘Just Do It.’’ Busch said of the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ campaign, ‘‘In our lifetimes, we’ll never see so much value created from a single idea. It makes Budweiser a brand for every culture, every demographic and every community. It makes Budweiser a younger, hipper, more contemporary brand.’’
The decline in Budweiser sales could not be stopped, however. Meanwhile, sales of Bud Light continued to grow at double-digit rates, and in 2001 it surpassed Budweiser to become the best-selling beer in the United States. Anheuser-Busch continued to dominate the domestic beer market. In 2000 the company increased shipments and sales by 2.8 percent, and in 2001 it likewise outperformed the industry, approaching a market share of nearly 50 percent. Budweiser’s umbrella ‘‘True’’ campaign, so memorably launched by the ‘‘Whassup?!’’ commercials, continued.
Advertising Agency: DDB Chicago
Creative Director: Bob Scarpelli
Copywriter: Charles Stone III
Art Director: Chuck Taylor
Production Company: C&C Storm Films
Director: Charles Stone III
Whassup?! For Obama
Its been eight long years since the boys said ‘Wassup’ to each other. Even with the effects of a down economy and imminent change in the White House, the boys are still able to come together and stay true to what really matters. The spot is in essence a public service announcement for President Obama’s message of change.
Advertising Agency: Believe Media
Creative Director: Charles Stone III
Director: Charles Stone III
THE SITUATION: Men love going to bars to drink beer with friends.
THE PROBLEM: Girlfriends. They hate it when men go to bars to drink beer with friends.
THE SOLUTION: ANDES TELETRANSPORTER. Soundproof booths placed in the main bars of Mendoza, Argentina. These booths have a sound panel that recreates different environments to get men out of the bar without leaving it.
THE RESULT More happy men at bars, less broken up couples.
Advertising Agency: Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Buenos Aires
Executive Creative Director: Maxi Itzkoff
Executive Creative Director: Mariano Serkin
Creative Director: Javier Campopiano
Copywriter: Patricio Del Sante
Art Director: Carlos Muller / Bruno Tortolano / Juan Pedro Porcaro
Agency Producer: Adrian Aspani / Camilo Rojas / Patricio Martinez
Production Company: Primo (Primo)
Music Company: Supercharango (Supercharango)
Director: Primo (Primo)
Mr. Really Really Really Bad Dancer
Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer
Mr. Silent Killer Gas Passer
Mr. Foot Long Hot Dog Inventor
Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor
Mr. Really Bad Toupet Weawer
Mr. Pro Wrestling Wardrobe Designer
Mr. Grocery Store Cart Wrangler
Bud Light’s “Real Men of Genius,” from DDB Chicago, facetiously saluting the world’s legion of unsung male heroes, is probably the best and funniest radio campaign of all time, and the TV spots were stellar, too. The faux-epic tributes featured great mock-serious voiceovers by Pete Stacker and over-the-top vocals by Survivor’s Dave Bickler.
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., had the two best-selling beers in the United States in 2000 as well as more than double the market share of any competitor. The company’s flagship brew, Budweiser, remained the country’s most popular alcoholic beverage despite a decadelong decline in sales.Bud Light had meanwhile been making double-digit percentage gains in sales and was poised to overtake the ‘‘King of Beers,’’ thanks to the growing consumer preference for reduced-calorie beer. Anheuser-Busch maintained its market dominance in part by consistently setting the standard for beer advertising.
After assuming responsibility for advertising for the Bud family of brands in 1994, August A. Busch IV (son of August A. Busch III, the company’s CEO) made it a priority to update Bud’s image for a new generation of beer drinkers. Anheuser-Busch advertising, under Busch and marketing executive Bob Lachky, increasingly relied on irreverent, ironic humor to appeal to younger segments of its legal-drinking-age audience. Although radio had become an afterthought for many advertisers by the late 1990s, Anheuser-Busch continued to explore the medium’s possibilities. In keeping with the tone of a mid-1990s radio campaign and Bud Light’s consistently popular television campaigns, Anheuser-Busch unveiled a tongue-in-cheek series of radio spots called ‘‘Real American Heroes,’’ which parodied beer advertisements of previous decades. Anheuser-Busch spent a reported $4 million on the radio campaign in 2002.
The ‘‘Real American Heroes’’ campaign made a bigger splash than many believed possible for a radio effort. Renamed ‘‘Real Men of Genius’’ after September 11, 2001, the campaign ran successfully for years, earning dozens of awards from the advertising industry while building a dedicated base of fans. ‘‘Real Men of Genius’’ made the rare leap from radio to television in 2003. Though the television commercials were likewise well regarded, the campaign returned exclusively to radio the following year.
Extending the tone of the Heston radio campaign and directly parodying Anheuser-Busch’s own ‘‘This Bud’s for You’’ concept, DDB’s creative team singled out ‘‘regular guys’’ in overlooked jobs or with comical foibles, ‘‘people who just need to be called out to take a bow for whatever reason,’’ as agency creative director John Immesoete said, and began scripting music-based mock tributes to them. For the commercials’ sound track, DDB commissioned Chicago-based Scandal Music to compose a comically overblown 1980s song similar to the Survivor hit ‘‘Eye of the Tiger,’’ and David Bickler, who had himself been Survivor’s lead singer, was hired to do a bombastic parody of his own vocal work. After a lengthy search DDB hired announcer Pete Stacker, whose experience included traditional beer advertising, to do voice-over for the spots. The lyrics, sung in dramatic fashion by Bickler, worked in counterpoint to Stacker’s deadpan baritone voice-over, and a portrait of each ‘‘hero’’ emerged against the background of soaring music. Anheuser-Busch was uncertain, in the beginning, about the extreme sarcasm of the commercials. ‘‘But we ran them past the consumer,’’ Lachky told Adweek, ‘‘and they were a home run.’’
The initial series of 12 ‘‘Real American Heroes’’ spots attracted fans almost immediately. Radio personality Howard Stern lauded them on the air, and websites devoted to the jingles’ lyrics began appearing. Tape recordings of the spots showed up for sale at the online auction site eBay, and ‘‘Real American Heroes,’’ along with Budweiser’s famous ‘‘Whassup?!’’ television commercials (also created by DDB Worldwide Chicago), began to dominate the awards circuit. The radio commercials were likewise popular with Anheuser-Busch executives and distributors, and DDB was told to ‘‘keep ‘em coming,’’ according to Immesoete. Another 17 spots followed the original 12. With the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, the premise of mocking American heroes suddenly seemed questionable, and the spots were pulled from circulation. The campaign reemerged in early 2002 as ‘‘Real Men of Genius.’’ The continuing success of ‘‘Real Men of Genius’’ led Anheuser-Busch to commission the campaign’s adaptation for a 2003–04 television run. The move was seen as risky, even though similar Anheuser-Busch spots had already aired on British TV. The spots’ success in the United States had depended, until then, on allowing the consumer to visualize the characters being parodied via song and voice-over. As DDB’s Bob Winter told Adweek, ‘‘It was hard to think of how to do it visually on TV.’’ The initial spots adapted included ‘‘Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer,’’ ‘‘Mr. Foot Long Hot Dog Inventor,’’ and ‘‘Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer’’ and appeared on programs such as Saturday Night Live and Monday Night Football. A ‘‘Real Men of Genius’’ commercial likewise made it onto Anheuser-Busch’s famously competitive Super Bowl roster, and the television campaign was, like its radio counterpart, a favorite on the awards circuit. Anheuser-Busch decided early on, however, to limit the number of TV adaptations. ‘‘Sometimes the best ideas are [best] left alone in the medium where they flourish,’’ Lachky told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The spots continued on radio. In 2004 the number of spots produced since the campaign’s inception surpassed 100, and in Anheuser-Busch’s view the potential to extend the idea was still endless.
MIDLER WAS NO SURVIVOR
DDB Worldwide Chicago originally envisioned using a Bette Midler song like ‘‘The Wind Beneath My Wings’’ for the sound track to the ‘‘Real American Heroes’’ commercials. But the rights to Midler’s songs proved prohibitively expensive, and the Midler music did not work well in test runs. DDB’s creative team began, instead, to lean toward a 1980s anthem-rock sound along the lines of Survivor’s ‘‘Eye of the Tiger.’’ The agency hired Chicago’s Scandal Music to do an original parody of that sound, and it happened that Scandal’s owner, Sandy Torano, was a friend of Survivor’s lead singer, David Bickler. Far from being offended at the suggestion that he mock someone like himself, Bickler embraced the role. Indeed Bickler had long enjoyed a career not just as a rock star but as an ad pitchman, with singing credits that included a Kentucky Fried Chicken ‘‘Finger Lickin’ Good’’ spot, a Frosted Flakes commercial, and work for Sprite’s ‘‘Uncola’’ campaign. In TV versions of the ‘‘Real Men of Genius’’ spots, Bickler was shown wearing an unflattering wig and pumping his fists triumphantly while singing. ‘‘That’s part of my role, to provide that exclamation point,’’ he told USA Today. ‘‘I get into the spirit. I want it to be as good as it could be.’’
In addition to exceeding 100 spots, the ‘‘Real American Heroes/Real Men of Genius’’ campaign earned more than 100 advertising awards. The radio campaign won the top Radio-Mercury Award two years in a row, the 2003 Grand Clio, and numerous other Clio, ADDY, Kinsale, One Show, and ANDY awards. The television campaign won a Gold Lion at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France. Numerous websites devoted to lyrics and MP3 recordings of the commercials could be found on the Internet throughout the campaign’s run. In 2003 and 2004 Anheuser-Busch released two volumes of official compact disc recordings of selected spots along with bonus tracks of unreleased spots. The campaign was credited with raising the profile of radio advertising as a whole.
In 2001 Bud Light, overtaking Budweiser in sales for the first time, became the number one beer in America. Continuing to dominate the domestic beer market, Anheuser-Busch had approached a market share of 50 percent by 2001 and held steady at that unprecedented level in following years. ‘‘We knew we had a winner with the ‘Real Men of Genius’ campaign early on,’’ Lachky told PR Newswire, ‘‘but the popularity and longevity of the series has exceeded our expectations and provided a fantastic promotional opportunity for Bud Light.’’