Bud Light just revived its most controversial mascot of all time: Spuds MacKenzie
The beer brand debuted a commercial starring the ghost of Spuds MacKenzie during the Super Bowl. In the ad, Spuds takes on a Christmas Carol-esque role, encouraging an anti-social young man to spend more time with his friends.
The pooch first waddled onto the social scene in a 1987 Super Bowl ad narrated by “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” host Robin Leach. The ad showed Spuds pulling up to a bar in a limo and winning the affection of adoring females.
The Super Bowl LI return is temporary and is meant to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Spuds’ debut. Bud Light even brought back Mr. Leach, who in the voiceover for the new spot says, “that was Spuds MacKenzie reminding you, you’re not just here for the parties, you’re here for the friendships,” as Spuds ascends back up into dog heaven carrying a Bud Light.
The ad seeks to tie into Bud Light’s new “Famous Among Friends” campaign by using ghost Spuds to lure a man back out with his friends after he was resigned to spend a night in. Anheuser Busch InBev’s Bud Light VP Alex Lambrecht said Spuds’ return is a one-time event designed only for the Super Bowl ad, which will not be put into regular rotation after the game.
The original Spuds quickly became a cultural phenomenon after his 1987 debut and was credited with helping to boost Bud Light sales by 20% between 1987 and 1988, according to a New York Times report at the time.
But Anheuser-Busch was targeted by critics who argued that Spuds encouraged underage drinking. Those complaining included Republican Senator Strom Thurmond, who in late 1987 took his case to the Senate floor.
When asked if Anheuser-Busch was expecting any backlash from bringing Spuds back, Mr. Lambrecht said: “We feel that the way we are introducing Spuds is, we are doing it in a very responsible way. He is going to be reminding consumers that it was not about the party, it was all about the friendships — so we are clearly making sure every single time our message goes out it will be done in a very positive way.”
“Spuds was the booster rocket to the brand’s success. It was truly one of the most powerful advertising ideas in the last 25 years,” then-Bud Light marketing director Bob Lachky was quoted as saying. “The criticism, I remember it,” he said. “I just wish some people would have a sense of humor. It was meant to be fun.”