Remember in the late ’90s and early 2000s when people would walk around saying “Whazzzuuppppp?!” to each other all the time? This is whassup with that.
It was a cold December night in 1999. It was a time of transition and general cultural confusion. We were struggling to find our aesthetic as we rapidly approached the new millennium. It was the perfect environment for “Whassup” to emerge.
This Budweiser spot first aired during Monday Night Football on December 20, 1999 and took America by storm, almost instantly turning “whassup” into a catchphrase you had to endure being yelled at you by some tongue-wagging co-worker (or obnoxious classmate) on a daily basis. It didn’t make sense, but it was memorable. And it was 1999 so there wasn’t a lot else going on besides Y2K.
Budweiser really milked the hell out of the “whassup” buzz and immediately released a series of spinoff commercials, simplifying the idea more until it was literally just a slew off different people shouting the titular catchphrase.
We didn’t even care that this first spinoff, “Wasabi”, was a little bit racist. We loved it so much. We demanded more and the Budweiser creative team worked their asses off to deliver…
“Whassup” really took off in 2000. Already, it had become integrated into every facet of pop culture. It became a joke on major sitcoms and news programs, and was even featured in the above scene from the hit 2000 film, Scary Movie. There was no avoiding it.
Exactly what it sounds like. Same thing as usual, but with grandmas. Always a safe direction to take things. Shockingly, this spot doesn’t feature Betty White.
You know Budweiser had to turn it up for the Superbowl. And they did. With aliens. This is my personal favorite.
When the emperor alien asks the ex-dog alien, “What have you learned on earth?” the ex-dog alien simply replies, “Whasssupppp!?” Beer commercial or biting criticism on the degradation of society? YOU be the judge.
Perhaps the most self aware piece in the “Whassup” series, “What Are You Doing?” explores the waspy upper middle class white man’s clumsy appropriation of slang. The creatives at Budweiser really turned “whassup” on it’s head with this one. It’s a thinker.
Oh dear god speaking of white people, this video illustrates how the phenomenon took off beyond the national airwaves and was adopted by smaller communities.
Here’s a cringey attempt by a small car dealership to pay tribute to (or parody? or copy?) the “Whassup” series in their local commercial.
Warning: This one might fuck with your head a little.
Charles Stone III, the creator of the short film that the “Whassup” ad campaign is based upon, created this video in 2008. It’s actually pretty smart in using a cultural reference from the early 2000s to contrast the culture of that time with the financial crisis America was experiencing in 2008 (and currently unless you’re reading this a lot of years after it was written).
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=6t-ljfykXzM. Via Youtube
“Whassup” was long played out by 2012. America was content to put it to rest. But of course, in 2012, Adam Grown Ups 2 Sandler had to dig it up one last time and really kill the joke for good in his film, That’s My Boy. Here is the last “major” appearance and undignified death of the glorious cultural phenomenon.