Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Brief History of the Bud Bowls

Update: I did a brief update of this and corrected some of the errant grammar to re-post during the 2012 Super Bowl. Read that article here.


I would write a witty caption here, but I feel like it would go unread as your eyes will be drawn elsewhere.



I miss the days of Budweiser daring to make one long multipart ad with a story arc that ran through all four quarters of the game. Gone are the days of Louie the Lizard trying to assassinate the Budweiser frogs to take their place as the official Bud spokes-creature.

As near as I can tell by doing as little research as possible, the first ad series of this type for Budweiser was the Bud Bowl in 1989. This ran during Super Bowl XXIII, and proved to be such a huge hit that Bud made a new series of Bud Bowl ads for every Superbowl until 1996. (On a random note, the 1996 Super Bowl was actually the last Super Bowl won by my Green Bay Packers. UPDATE: until tonight. Yippie Kay Yay!)

I now present for your Super Bowl Sunday viewing pleasure, the full set of ads for Bud Bowls I through VII.

Bud Bowl I

Here is the full Bud Bowl I, the ad series that started it all.



According to the website Dead Spin, the ad agency that wrote the script for the Bud Bowl toyed with the idea of having the final seconds of the Bud Bowl be cut off by a clip of the TV movie Heidi, which would have apparently been a reference to a November 17, 1968 AFL game between the Jets and the Oakland Raiders. The game was running a few minutes long and the Jets were winning with a 32-29 score and 65 seconds left in the game. NBC, proving that they were run by morons long before they fired Conan, decided to end their coverage of the game and go on with the regularly scheduled program that was supposed to follow the game, a new made for TV movie about the children's story Heidi. While all NBC East Coast viewers saw the first minute of Heidi bounding through the fields, the Raiders scored 14 points and won the game 43 to 32. This game went on to be called the Heidi game or Heidi Bowl.

In terms of what was actually seen during the ad, as you saw, Budweiser beat Bud Light 27 to 24. Would Bud Light be able to beat their rival and win Bud Bowl II?


Bud Bowl II



So, nope, Bud Light didn't win. Bud Light: Great taste, less filling,* but apparently shitty at football.



Bud Bowl III

Here's how it went down in Bud Bowl III:



Holy crap! Bud Light won! This one is significant for being the last Bud Bowl to feature the awesome looking stop motion beer bottles playing football. And also for having appearances by Bud Ice and Bud Dry, two beverages that by all accounts tasted terrible. Bud Ice was significant though for their "Beware of the Penguins" ad campaign, which I loved as a kid.



Bud Bowl IV: 
The Phantom Menace 

Perhaps getting sick of how expensive and time consuming it was to do the intricate (but super awesome) stop motion sequences for the on field action, Bud Bowl IV featured almost no on field action of the beers playing football. And the few clips they use look like they might be recycled clips from previous years.

Instead it was promoting a prize give away contest Budweiser was having that you could win by buying their beer. As you can see below, (but, really, don't bother watching it), the ad shows some dip-shit trying to retrieve his winning ticket from a pigeon who stole it. This is somehow even stupider than it sounds. You could watch the compilation of the two minutes worth of ads about this that Bud subjected to the Super Bowl viewing public below, but I'm not sure why you would want to.



Screw this guy and his pigeon and his haircut.



Bud Bowl V

Bud Bowl V fortunately brought back the format of two groups of beer bottles wearing helmets playing football. The company decided to go with computer graphics to make the beer bottles move instead of stop motion.



I think the computer models they used lacked the charm and cuteness of the stop motion sequences from years past. However, they used the new technology for some very clever gags. Also, it is cool to see humans interacting with the bottle players. Despite my nostalgia for the stop motion, I'm actually in favor of the new graphics for the bottles. They did a lot of interesting things with them and they look way better than you would think CGI from 1992 would, (the commercial aired in Jan 1993 so it was made using 1992 technology).

Also cool about this commercial is the fact that the two Bud teams are coached by football great Joe Namath and star of the film Major League Corbin Bernsen.



Bud Bowl VI




In Bud Bowl VI, Mike Ditka is one of the coaches, and anything with Ditka in it is cooler than the same thing without him in it. The gag of Ditka listening to music on his headphones instead of talking to the assistant coaches is pretty great.

 This game was significant for being the last multipart Bud Bowl and the first time a can of beer had been a player in the game. And also for having a guy about a minute into the above video yell with way too much enthusiasm, "Hey! Turn it up! It's the BUD BOWL!!!!" I hope the actor who said that line so excitedly is related to the actor in Back to the Future II who says, "I think he took his wallet" way more times than necessary and with such gusto.



Bud Bowl VII: 
The advertising equivalent of Budweiser sending all of America a text containing Brett Favre's penis.

Bud Bowl VII sounds idiotic, and I can't find a video of it anywhere. Here is a description from the great website Mental_Floss:

"Anheuser-Busch probably should’ve sent its bottles to the recycling plant after Bud Bowl VI. Instead, they gave us 60 seconds of Iggy, Biff, and Frank, castaways who watched Bud Bowl VII unfold from a desert island. With Bud trailing late in the game, Iggy was transported off the island and into the game, where he caught a pass and began rumbling toward the end zone. Eighty yards later, following a dream-like montage of press clippings and cereal boxes commemorating his newfound celebrity, Iggy gave Bud its fifth Bud Bowl win."

Mental_Floss also has a rundown of all the previous Bud Bowls Here.


Bud Bowl VIII: 
The Bud Bowl is Dead, Long Live the Bud Bowl

There was no Bud Bowl in 1996, as I previously mentioned, but they brought it back for a one off spot in 1997 that I again can't find online but which again sounds stupid based on the Mental Floss description:

'After a one-year hiatus, Bud Bowl VIII returned with another single, forgettable spot. Howie Long and Ronnie Lott provided coverage, holding Fox Sports microphones no less, from a bar in the Louisana bayou. After a fan stole his microphone and opened a fridge to reveal the Bud Bowl in action, Lott threw him out of a bar window and into a swamp. Lott proceeded to reveal the final score before the spot ended with a familiar refrain from the fan, who was sharing space in the swamp with an alligator: “I love you, man.”'



So after its awesome beginnings, the final two Bud Bowls ended the series not with a bang but a whimper. Kind of like how Budweiser has slowly been made with cheaper and cheaper ingredients over the years, until today, where the second most prevalent ingredient in Budweiser is rice, really. (Rice is much cheaper than wheat which is why it is used. Bud has lately been doing ads promoting the fact that its beer is made of rice and claiming that the rice makes it taste awesome, which is pretty ridiculous, and akin to if Kraft's Velveeta cheese ads said that milk protein concentrate makes their "Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product" taste way better than actual cheese made from actual milk.)


Footnote(s)
*That may have been Miller Lite's 90's motto, not Bud Light's, now that I think about it. Either way both those light beers taste like rain water filtered through a jock strap.

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