|Country of origin United States|
Production company(s) Palomar Pictures
|Running time 30–60 seconds|
Original release 1995 – 2000
The Budweiser Frogs are three lifelike puppet frogs named "Bud", "Weis", and "Er", who began appearing in American television commercials for Budweiser beer during Super Bowl XXIX in 1995. They are part of one of the most well-known international alcohol advertising campaigns. The first Budweiser Frogs commercial was created by David Swaine, Michael Smith and Mark Choate of DMB&B/St. Louis, but only after their ACDs made them pitch first. The commercial was directed by Gore Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Bud, Weis, and Er
The commercial began with a scene of a swamp at nighttime, and a close-up of Bud rhythmically croaking his name. Later Weis and Er join in. They croak rather randomly for about ten seconds, until Bud, Weis, and Er begin croaking in sequence, thus forming the Budweiser name. Their croaking becomes quicker as the camera pulls back to show a bar with a large neon Budweiser sign glowing in the night. The commercial is often listed among the best Super Bowl advertisements in history, ranking at #5 at MSNBC's list in 2004.
Louie, Frankie, and the Ferret
After the initial ads generated great interest, new creatures began making appearances in the swamp. Beginning at Super Bowl XXXII, a new campaign created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners introduced two wisecracking chameleons made their debut. Louie, notable for his distinct Brooklyn accent (he was voiced by New York City voice actor Paul Christie), was irritated by the frogs' incessant croaking, and jealous of their success, while Frankie, who speaks in a low baritone voice (voiced by the Broadway veteran Danny Mastrogiorgio), was his more rational, even-tempered friend. Frankie apparently socialized with the frogs and was puzzled by Louie's animosity towards them.
As the series' storyline progressed, it documented Louie's enlisting the assistance of an inept ferret hit man, who tries to kill the frogs by dismantling and dropping the Budweiser neon sign into the swamp water, thus electrocuting them. Although this assassination attempt failed, it resulted in Weis developing post-electroshock muscular irregularity. Louie briefly replaced Weis in the Bud-Weis-Er cheer, but ended up getting all of them fired, due to Louie's inability to just follow the script. The other frogs in return gave him a literal tongue-lashing and revealed to Louie that they could speak with a complete vocabulary and that they knew all along about his plot against them. These three frogs then began a new lifestyle as flashy tap-dancing and Fred Astaire-mimicking acts on Broadway.
The Budweiser Lizards later displaced the frogs entirely and continued appearing in television and radio advertisements into the early 2000s. In March 1999 Budweiser released a CD, Frank & Louie's Greatest Hits, featuring songs such as "Sweet Home Alabama, "My Sharona", and "Rock This Town" woven around alternate takes of some of Frank and Louie's radio ads.
Much like the Joe Camel controversy around the time of the frogs popularity, a 1996 study showed that children often recognized the Budweiser frogs as much as other ad icons like Ronald McDonald and Tony the Tiger, as well as other cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny. Many have speculated that Budweiser's frogs were targeting younger people to their alcoholic products. Anheuser-Busch denies this, but because of such findings Budweiser eventually slowed down the ad campaign in the years ahead, and by 1998 the frogs were discontinued and replaced by lizards, which appealed to an older audience than the frogs did.