Remember those iconic “whassup” Anheuser-Busch ads from almost a decade ago? Advertisers love it when a catch phrase works its way into public use outside the original advertising because it spreads the meme far wider than advertising alone can ever manage. Whassup was one of those catch phrases that captured public attention for a brief period of time and spread itself all around popular culture, and was used referentially in a variety of contexts. You don’t hear it that often these days, but its memory still lingers in the public conscious.
The Whassup ad campaign, officially called True, ran from 1999 to 2002. The first spot aired during Monday Night Football on December 20 1999. It was actually based on a short film called True by “Charles Stone III, that featured Stone and several of his childhood friends – Fred Thomas, Paul Williams, Terry Williams, and Kevin Lofton. The characters sat around talking on the phone and saying “Whassup!” to one another in a comical way. The short was popular at a number of film festivals around the country and eventually caught the attention of Vinny Warren, a creative director at the Chicago based ad agency DDB, who took the idea to August A. Busch IV, vice president of Anheuser-Busch, and signed Stone to direct Budweiser TV commercials based on the film. Scott Martin Brooks won the role of “Dookie” when Kevin Lofton declined to audition. “Whassup!” won the Cannes Grand Prix award and the Grand Clio award, among others). In May 2006, the campaign was inducted into the CLIO Hall of Fame.” The phrase spread like wildfire and Wikipedia has a good list of where “whassup” appeared as a pop culture reference.
On Friday, a new Whassup political ad appeared on YouTube, using actors who resembled the original Whassup guys, showing where there are eight years later, thanks to current administration policies. It was created by 60 Frames, a film company that creates internet content. Whatever your political leanings, it’s a great use of satire in casting archtypes in specific light to make a point. Really, it’s as poignant and sad as it is funny. The version below was added to YouTube on Saturday and begins with the original Whassup ad, which I think gives better context to it, since you can compare and contrast the original with the newer satirical one. Genius — True.