1989 was a year of Super Bowl firsts: the first USA Today Ad Meter ("Dana and Jon Do Miami"), the first halftime tie, the first year of Anheuser-Busch's category exclusivity and the first Bud Bowl, a stop-motion, multi-ad game between teams of Budweiser and Bud Light bottles.
Created by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Bud Bowl borrowed real-life anouncers Bob Costas and Paul Maguire but in many ways had to be built from scratch. Ben Fernandez, executive producer at the ad agency, had recently created a stop-motion project called "Long Necks to Go" with Dave Henke, creative director and writer, and Bill Oakley, associate creative director and art director, as Fernandez recalled in an email to Ad Age later:
So it wasnʼt a long stretch to show the folks at Anheuser Busch a proto type for Bud Bowl on a piece of plywood with green indoor/outdoor carpet glued to it and painted with football field markings, and the players made of Bud and Bud Lite bottles wearing helmets from a gum ball vending machine. August Busch loved the idea, now we had to pull it off.
Keep in mind this was May of 1988, the digital revolution and the internet were still years in the future, cameras still used film, sound was mixed on magnetic tape, and Appleʼs miracle Macintosh had only debuted in 1984. The brewery loved the idea, you donʼt say no to August Busch, and you have a drop dead air date of January 22, 1989, not too stressful, I was tasked with figuring out how to pull it all together.
Broadcast Arts, was picked for the stop motion animation work, having completed production on the Pee Wee Herman show, SFPG, San Francisco Production Group would create the 3D CGI intro animation, and Sync Sound in NYC would handle the audio, having the only digital non-linear audio suite in the city or pretty much anywhere.
Production began in July of ʼ88 with creative and logistical discussions at Broadcast Arts, and all at once we realized that the leap from Long Necks to Go to Bud Bowl was going to be a big one. One of the first challenges was deciding how big or small to make the world of Bud Bowl. Well once it was decided that a long neck beer bottle was the equivalent of a 6ʼ 6” linebacker, the rest was easy, weʼd need a miniature stadium the size of a city block to hold the field and 20,000 screaming fan/cans. No problem. The size of the stadium was dealt with by forcing perspective, we had 5000 full size cans at field level, then 5000 custom made half size cans, quarter and 1/8th size going back and up into the nose bleed sections and the stadium itself was modular, divided into quarters so we could get animators into the set to create the animated motion and allow for lighting and camera movement.
See more at "Bud Bowl Part 2."
BRAND: Budweiser and Bud Light
AGENCY: D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles