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Budweiser recreates iconic 'Wassup' commercial in context of lockdown

'WASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSUPPPPP' - asks the original commercial shot in 1999, which looks a lot like life during lockdown in 2020.

The original ad from 1999 doesn't have much dialogue apart from this greeting. "Nothing much, watching the game, drinking a bud," say the protagonists, at different points of time during the video. Come to think of it, the original ad looks a lot like life in lockdown, since it features friends who are connecting with each other from their respective homes. In India Budweiser 0.0 (a non-alcoholic beverage) has launched a contemporary remake of its global advert, ‘Whassup Bud’, in India, urging people to check in on their buds virtually. The ad also reminds viewers to continue to observe social distancing norms, despite the phased easing of lockdown in India.

The digital film is a humorous reboot of the classic ‘Whassup’ catchphrase, popularized by the brand back in 1999, which shows friends staying in touch, though now at a distance. Staying true to the messaging, the film has been produced entirely online, with scenes of the advert self-shot by the protagonists at their homes.

The ad features five comedian friends, Rohan Joshi, Rahul Subramanian, Urooj Ashfaq, Kaneez Surka and Abish Mathew, engaging in banter over a video call, from the comfort of their couch, each of them homebound and distancing. Through an animated exchange of the iconic ‘Whassup’ phrase, the film showcases human interactions while in quarantine – the sheer joy of seeing your friends pop-up on your device screen when you cannot meet them IRL, intense board game sessions, even the awkwardness of interacting with a friend’s mother unexpectedly, all brought alive virtually.

Commenting on this initiative, Alexander Lambrecht, VP marketing – South Asia, AB InBev, says, “We understand that the lockdown, implemented for the public good, has limited social activity. Now as restrictions are winding down, many are eager to step out and meet their friends. While we do understand the sentiment, we wanted to underscore the need to continue physical distancing. The 'Whassup' campaign reinforces this messaging, even as, staying true to our credo, we bring people together and celebrate friendships while apart. The health and safety of our stakeholders are of utmost priority to us, and we are confident that we will win this together.”

The Indian recreation of this ad reinforcing the importance of social distancing, the campaign posits what is essentially the need of the hour in the current climate – checking in and chilling with your buds is important but meeting them is not. As we adapt to the new normal, it is vital for people to continue to stay indoors and step out only when necessary. Earlier in April, Budweiser's American channel released a version of the 1999 ad that takes place over a Facetime call. The ad aimed to remind viewers that 'checking in' with their friends, family and loved ones is more important now than ever.

The original ad that inspired these commercials was re-uploaded to the Budweiser UK YouTube channel last month, with the hashtag #Togetheratadistance to remind users to self-isolate and to observe social distancing norms.

The recreations aren't the only ads that Budweiser has published during the lockdown. It released an ad titled 'One Team' that paid tribute to frontline workers and healthcare professionals who are actively battling the coronavirus pandemic.