It seems that we’ve hit a point with quarantine where even the most introverted among us are ready for some in-person social interaction. As the days turn into weeks and months with no certain end date in sight, it’s easy to get a bit down about all this.
So more than ever, we need each other. To remind us all to keep checking in, especially during those slumps, Budweiser created a new rendition of its classic 1999 “Whassup” ad, this time featuring a star-studded cast: NBA superstar Dwyane Wade, actor Gabrielle Union, Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh, two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker and DJ D-Nice all chime in with the iconic refrain in the 90-second spot.
“Thanks to modern technology, we’re able to remain virtually connected in ways that otherwise we would not have been able to within the current distance-mandated climate,” said Monica Rustgi, vp of marketing for Budweiser, in a statement. “In times like these, something as simple as a hello, or in this case, ‘Whassup,’ means a lot.”
Rustgi also said that the theme of the original spot provided an opportunity to “focus on human connection in a time when people may be feeling hopeless, uncertain and alone. Our hope is that by getting people to check in, we can play a small part in bringing the world closer together during these trying times.”
It’s just the beginning of a broader campaign that Budweiser is launching, and more “Whassup” spots are headed our virtual way later this month. The second episode will also feature Wade and Union.
“My wife and I wanted to partner with Budweiser because we believe the message is crucial,” said Wade in a statement. “We both remembered the original ‘Whassup’ ads and love the idea of bringing them back as a genuine PSA to connect with each other. We encourage everyone to take a moment out from their day to check-in with their friends and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Alongside the PSAs, Budweiser is donating to The Salvation Army to support the charity’s work to support those in need as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. That includes a new nationwide hotline, launched this month to support Americans suffering from anxiety, uncertainty and fear related to Covid-19.
Budweiser’s also launching a series of daily interactive events on its social media platforms, including celebrity live chats, merch giveaways and “Whassup” conversation topics. Wade is kicking things off today at 6 p.m. ET with a live check-in on the brand’s Instagram account. He’ll be answering fan questions, and having a Bud, of course.
The original “Whassup” ad ran during Monday Night Football in December 1999, and has been referenced in shows like The Office and Friends in the two decades since. In 2018, Burger King partnered with Budweiser for a remake of the ad, and earlier this year, Budweiser Canada worked with Toronto agency Mosaic to create a futuristic robot version, featuring several sentient smart home devices and promoting Budweiser’s partnership with Uber.