Budweiser’s wildly popular “Whassup” campaign, also called “Wazzup,” was inspired by a 1999 film called “True” by Charles Stone III, a short that a DDB creative director spotted and recommended adapting for Budweiser’s purposes. What followed in December 1999, a commercial about an innocent little phone exchange between four friends, quickly snowballed into a global pop culture phenomenon.
It spawned one of the most awarded campaigns in advertising history, snagging the Cannes Grand Prix and a Clio along the way, not to mention countless parodies and untold repetitions of the W-word in everyday life. “The campaign began during football season, so we thought it might become popular with an avid sports crowd,” DDB Chicago Group Creative Director Don Pogany told Ad Age. “But had no idea it would take off everywhere.”
“I was surprised by all the internet parodies and the fact that it was globally popular,” Creative Director Vinny Warren said. “It just went nuts! I think people liked it because it was physically cathartic to say the phrase. … It was just magically irresistible on some level. And ‘wassup’ is American for ‘hello,’ so everyone had lots of excuses to say it in a day.”
Stone, who made the original “True,” can be seen in the series of ads that resulted. That’s him holding the phone in the bar in the “Girlfriend” iteration that Bud brought to the Super Bowl in 2000, a nice fit for the big game and the dual-gender audience. (It followed "Wassup Call Waiting" during the pre-game.) Stone went on to direct the feature films “Drumline” and “Paid in Full” as well as ads for brands including Nike. Bud would bring square-white-guy and extraterrestrial twists to the campaign in a pair of spots for the following year’s Super Bowl XXXV ("What Are You Doing?" "Whassup Come Home").
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