BROADCASTING: PETER YORK ON ADS No 290: BUDWEISER
The Budweiser frogs are coming along nicely. It's a simple trick, a throwaway line but well done. And, like the Claymation figures in the "Creature comforts" adverts, the commercials depend utterly on the dialogue.
The bendy pets of "Creature comforts" spoke the language of group discussions and amiable stream-of-consciousness non sequitur - but as real as the creatures were not. The Budweiser frogs speak an utterly real and recognisable language too, but this time it's American comedy-speak - equally throwaway conversation between torpid green jumpers, but in Jackie Mason voices with a script somewhere between Frasier and South Park.
It's irrational, confident Psycho-babble For Men. One version has one of the frogs saying, "it could'a been me" (as the Budweiser star). His friend counsels him to "let it go". The present advert's edging closer, taking more risk. It opens on a lovely lily pond at night. Owls hoot; there's a great big green world beyond. It's a Frog's Life (a better size than a bug's) and this time there are some subtle innovations - such as lizards. There are lizards across the way and that means dialogue that's distinctly bold in American terms.
The frogs do their comic croaking - barmaids must be sick of it by now but it works - and they don't get it right first time. Then there's this fevered rallying. Frog to Lizard: "You stink. Get off the stage! Your mother's an iguana!" Lizard to Frog: "Hey, my mother's half iguana." "Sorry, I meant no disrespect." It's payoff lines such as these that turn these simple 20-second treatments so neatly.
There's an entire range of routes to go down, a whole continent of Kermits waiting in the wings for a turn when these stars are carted off to Friends restaurants. The people behind this advert could do it for ever, uncluttered by the usual dated-in-three-months mess of casting, clothes, music, settings and the rest. Young comedians will want to have Frogs scripts in their cvs, well above Perrier Awards and the Hackney Empire.
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