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Advertisement featuring the Frogs
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||30–60 seconds|
|Production company(s)||Palomar Pictures|
|Original release||1995 –|
The Budweiser Frogs are three lifelike puppet frogs named "Bud", "Weis", and "Er", who began appearing in American television commercials for Budweiser beer during Super Bowl XXIX in 1995. They are part of one of the most well-known international alcohol advertising campaigns. The first Budweiser Frogs commercial was created by David Swaine, Michael Smith and Mark Choate of DMB&B/St. Louis, but only after their ACDs made them pitch first. The commercial was directed by Gore Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Bud, Weis, and Er
The commercial began with a scene of a swamp at nighttime, and a close-up of Bud rhythmically croaking his name. Later Weis and Er join in. They croak rather randomly for about ten seconds, until Bud, Weis, and Er begin croaking in sequence, thus forming the Budweiser name. Their croaking becomes quicker as the camera pulls back to show a bar with a large neon Budweiser sign glowing in the night. The commercial is often listed among the best Super Bowl commercials in history, ranking at No. 5 at MSNBC's list in 2004. Several more Frog ads were produced, with Hollywood Animatronic Effects company The Character Shop brought online to give the frogs more flexibility and capabilities. In one ad, the three Bud Frogs are sitting on a log in a Louisiana swamp, chanting their "Bud...Weis...Er" chorus, when a Budweiser truck rolls by. The "Bud" frog zaps out his sticky tongue, latching onto the moving truck. Like an elastic bungee, the tongue stretches to the point where it can no more, then launches the frog off the log, sending him flying through the air after the truck, while a "Yee-Haw!" and Cajun music is heard. The frog puppets featured silicone skins over animatronic armatures, which allowed the frogs to breathe, bloat their throats, speak, and blink and move their eyes, via Radio Control and Rod Operation. A subsequent ad featured not the entire trio, but rather Bud and a newfound female frog. One later Super Bowl commercial featuring the frogs had them riding on the back of an alligator into the bar, where they croak their names at the startled patrons, and leave with a crate of Budweiser beer strapped to the alligator's waist while dancing to Jamming by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Louie, Frankie, and the Ferret
After the initial ads generated great interest, new creatures began making appearances in the swamp. Beginning at Super Bowl XXXII, a new campaign created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners introduced two wisecracking chameleons made their debut. Louie, notable for his distinct Brooklyn accent (he was voiced by New York City voice actor Paul Christie), was irritated by the frogs' incessant croaking, and jealous of their success, while Frankie, who speaks in a low baritone voice (voiced by the Broadway veteran Danny Mastrogiorgio), was his more rational, even-tempered friend. Frankie apparently socialized with the frogs and was puzzled by Louie's animosity towards them.
As the series' storyline progressed, it documented Louie's enlisting the assistance of an inept ferret hit man, who tries to kill the frogs by dismantling and dropping the Budweiser neon sign into the swamp water, thus electrocuting them. Although this assassination attempt failed, it resulted in Weis developing post-electroshock muscular irregularity. Louie briefly replaced Weis in the Bud-Weis-Er cheer, but ended up getting all of them fired, due to Louie's inability to just follow the script. The other frogs in return gave him a literal tongue-lashing and revealed to Louie that they could speak with a complete vocabulary and that they knew all along about his plot against them. These three frogs then began a new lifestyle as flashy tap-dancing and Fred Astaire-mimicking acts on Broadway.
The Budweiser Lizards later displaced the frogs entirely and continued appearing in television and radio advertisements into the early 2000s. In March 1999 Budweiser released a CD, Frank & Louie's Greatest Hits, featuring songs such as "Sweet Home Alabama, "My Sharona", and "Rock This Town" woven around alternate takes of some of Frank and Louie's radio ads.
Much like the Joe Camel controversy around the time of the frogs popularity, a 1996 study showed that children often recognized the Budweiser frogs as much as other ad icons like Ronald McDonald and Tony the Tiger, as well as other cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny. Many have speculated that Budweiser's frogs were targeting younger people to their alcoholic products. Anheuser-Busch denies this, but because of such findings Budweiser eventually slowed down the ad campaign in the years ahead, and by 1998 the frogs were discontinued and replaced by lizards, which appealed to an older audience than the frogs did.
In popular culture
- The first episode of MADtv did a parody of the Budweiser Frogs' "Truck" commercial, where the brand was parodied as "Vudweiser" and its slogan "King of Beers" was parodied as "Prince of Beers"; thus with the frog "Bud" changed to "Vud". Vud sticks his tongue to the back of a passing beer truck in a manner similar to the Budweiser commercial. Vud then flies through the air attached to the truck but the frog's "Yee-Haw" startles the driver, who then brakes suddenly. This causes the frog to fatally collide with the truck's back door.
- In The Simpsons episode "The Springfield Files", the three frogs say their names, and are then eaten by an alligator who growls "Coors."
- A computer virus hoax exists, in where downloading a screensaver of the Frogs destroys your computer.
- In the 1997 direct-to-video film Casper: A Spirited Beginning the Ghostly Trio parodied the frogs taking on a green appearance and saying Bull... doze... er before possessing a bulldozer.
- A 2011 episode of SportsNation on ESPN2 briefly parodied this commercial, where one of the three was sportscaster Michelle Beadle in a frog suit.
- A bumper for the Sirius XM satellite radio station '90s on 9 parodies this ad.
- "Bud-weis-er': the origin story of the Super Bowl-famous Budweiser Frogs". USA Today. 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
- "1995 Super Bowl Commercial "Bud" "Weis" "er"". YouTube. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- "The List: Top five Super Bowl commercials". MSNBC. 2004-01-30. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "THE CHARACTER SHOP BRINGS BUD FROGS TO LIFE, TO LOVE". character-shop. Retrieved 12 Feb 2019.
- "Los Angeles Times Valley Edition "Frog Princess"". character-shop. Retrieved 12 Feb 2019.
- "BUDWEISER FROGS SUPERBOWL Commercial". YouTube. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-23. Retrieved 2011-05-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Budweiser's Frogs Beat Out Smokey in Study of Kids". The San Francisco Chronicle. 2011-06-23.
- "Marketing alcohol to youth". www.traumaf.org.
- "MADD Blasts Budweiser's Bullfrog Ads". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. September 14, 1996. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
- Jean, Al (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Springfield Files" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "Casper: A Spirited Beginning – Bulldozer scene". You Tube. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "SportsNation's Michelle Beadle Spoofs Super Bowl Ads". January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
- Article about the Budweiser Frogs
- Web page describing the build and shoot of several of the Bud Frogs ads
- Budweiser Frogs at TVAcres.com[permanent dead link]
- Modern Ferret Magazine chooses the Budweiser Ferret as Ferret Of The Century
- Collection of TV ads for Budweiser including the complete Frogs/Louie the lizard sequence