When Weird Advertising Works: Spuds MacKenzie

mackensie48993Back in the 80s and early 90s, having a mascot for your brand was all the rage. However it became so popular that not many stuck. But those that did stick around for a while have gone down in infamy. One of these is the much beloved Spuds MacKenzie.

Spuds was Bud Light’s mascot during the late 80s—a well-trained and widely appealing dog that appeared in many of the beer company’s advertisements. Like any mascot worth its salt, Spuds was responsible for Bud Light making money off of much more than just beer—toys and shirts were flying off of the shelves during the height of Spuds’ popularity.

Pushed by endless posters, ads, and even a commercial spot during Super Bowl XXI, Spuds was flying high for quite some time.

However, too much fame can be bad. The friendly-looking bull terrier started to come under fire by several people and organizations. Senator Strom Thurmond accused Budweiser of sing the mascot to grab the interest of children. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving made a similar claim and the issue was even pushed to court—where there was no hard evidence found to support the allegations.

Perhaps the oddest bit of controversy came from Christmas ads that features Spuds in a Santa costume. The ads stirred some folks in Ohio, as such a practice is illegal (although it isn’t clear whether it is illegal for Santa to appear in beer ads or to dress a dog as Santa).

Spuds MacKenzie ads died out in the early 80s and the dog herself (that’s right…a her) passed away in 1993.

It’s worth noting that not many “flesh and blood” mascots have made it big since the era of Spuds MacKenzie. This is because digitally animated characters are easier to handle and see to have wider appeal.

Just as the GEICO, Aflac, and E-Trade mascots how they are doing these days.



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