What's the Big Idea?

By Published on .

DDB/Chicago associate creative director Vinny Warren had a few concerns before presenting his idea for a street-savvy Budweiser campaign, based on a short film called True that a friend had shown him. The two-and-a-half minute movie was the brainchild of Charles Stone III, a music video director who's made clips for the Roots, Public Enemy and Neneh Cherry, among others. True is drawn from Stone's childhood, and the action is simple - a group of guys sitting around (mostly watching TV) and yelling "Whassup?" over the phone. "I figured it was either going to be really good or really annoying," laughs Warren.

Let's go with the former. The soulful salutation has barged into the vernacular and the publicity is massive, exceeding Warren's wildest expectations. The minute he saw the film, he knew it was perfect for Bud. "It's just so real," he says. Warren maintains that very little tampering was done to the original concept, but for the addition of the "Watching the game, having a Bud" line. In fact, Stone and some of his childhood friends from True are recreating their roles in the spots. Stone too admits he had his doubts at first, fearing the end result would be a diluted version of True -more like False. But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise."Budweiser was really ballsy about letting the beer bottle take a backseat in the ads," he says. The result is that Madison Avenue rarity, a black campaign from a white agency for a rainbow coalition market.

While Warren and AD Justin Reardon were posting the first wave of spots on a marathon sushi binge, the two were struck by the similarity between "Whassup" and "wasabi." Thus the first execution of round two was born. "People in the halls of DDB were walking around greeting each other with 'Whassup,' but Justin and I had already moved on to 'Wasabi,' says Warren. The "Wasabi" spot features Dukie, the main whassupper, getting an entire Japanese restaurant to shout "wasabi," much to his girlfriend's dismay. Other spots feature the guys courtside at Madison Square Garden; a joke answering machine message; and a very unhip-sounding telemarketer who calls Dukie with one question - you know what it is.

Now guess what else is whassup? Sales.

Client: Budweiser Agency: DDB/Chicago CCO: Bob Scarpelli GCD: Don Pogany ACD/CW: Vinny Warren ADS: Chuck Taylor & Justin Reardon CW/Director: Charles Stone III, C &C Storm Films Producers: Ken Kwiatt, DDB; Sheila Simmons & Pat McGoldrick, C & C Storm Editor: Livio Sanchez, Lookinglass Post: Riot & Filmworks

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