Budweiser brings back “Whassup” for Canadian Super Bowl spot

Smart home tech recreates the classic ad, delivering a responsible consumption message through a partnership with Uber.

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“Whassup?” made its way into the popular lexicon twenty years ago, parodied and referenced across film and TV for years after it debuted. Now, it’s back to amuse a new generation, while also delivering a message about responsible consumption.

Budweiser is reprising the infamous catchphrase, re-purposed for a generation more familiar with smart home tech than with landlines. In the exclusive-to-Canada ad, smart home tech – from speakers to washing machines to vacuum cleaners – chat with one another in a conversation reminiscent of the original spot’s script. It ends with voiceover describing how it is “a smart world,” and that viewers shouldn’t be “stupid” about how they get around: the brewing giant is teaming up with Uber to make sure people get home safe, revealing a special promo code when the spot airs during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

Teaser ads on social also featured one of the actors from the original “Whassup” ads in a casting video, coaching various voice-powered devices on how to properly deliver the catchphrase.

Mike D’Agostini, director of marketing for Budweiser Canada, tells strategy that the phrase has become an ingrained part of culture (“Whassup?” first aired on Monday Night Football in 1999 and was a staple for the Anheuser-Busch brand and its Super Bowl ads until 2002). He says that since it was twenty years ago when it first aired, now was the “perfect time to bring it back with a smart twist,” and with a safety message to help it break through the crowded conversation about Super Bowl ads. In 2017, sister brand Bud Light brought back 80s mascot Spuds MacKenize for a U.S. Super Bowl ad.

According to D’Agostini, from a sponsorship standpoint, Budweiser is “proud” of its partnership with the NFL and that the Super Bowl continues to be a landmark event. “We believe it’s a time for consumers to lean in, actually watch, and look forward to watching ads from brands,” he says. “We think it’s a big moment for people to come together.”

He says the approach to the big game has not changed regardless of CRTC regulatory changes around ads during its broadcast. In December, the Supreme Court overturned the CRTC’s ban on simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl, allowing Bell – the current Canadian rights holder for the game’s broadcast – to once again substitute Canadian ads and feeds into the U.S. broadcast.

When it comes to target audience for the Super Bowl, D’Agostini says it is targeting all channels of media. The campaign will include a spot airing during CTV’s Super Bowl broadcast on Feb. 2, but also assets across social and OOH that launch today. For the two weeks leading up to the game, there will be social activations reminding people about the catchphrase and to get people home safe. Mosaic handled the creative elements of the campaign.

Outside of football, sports in general have been a big part of Budweiser’s brand positioning in Canada. After years of hockey-centric ads (several of which were launched during Super Bowl broadcasts, with the “Red Light” making a cameo appearance in the new “Whassup?” ad), Budweiser was named an Official Beer of the NHL in Canada in December. It was also one of the first national brands to sign up as sponsor of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association.