‘Wassup?’​ Lessons in brand storytelling

Gayle Kennedy B2B Branding, B2B Content Marketing, B2B Storytelling, Creative Covenant, Technology

TBT to 1999 and a group of friends ‘watching the game, having a Bud.’ Gayle Kennedy, our Director of Storytelling, explains what brand storytelling lessons we can glean from this iconic advertising series.


Our #tbt this week goes back to 1999, in which one question was asked:


On the face of it, this iconic ad did little more than present a group of friends gathering to watch a football game and drink a Bud. But the way in which the friends greeted each other – the now-iconic ‘Wassup’ – created that most precious of brand commodities:

An inside joke for the masses.

What does this teach us about the how, what, and how of brand storytelling?

Your product is not the protagonist

Beer companies have long practiced the art of the product being an accessory to a lifestyle, not the front-and-centre focus. Both B2B and B2C brands can apply this to their own brand storytelling by showing what their products can enable, rather than what they do.

Make it memorable

One word (and not even a real one word) can go a long way, especially when repeated throughout an ad. The simplicity and repetition makes it instantly memorable. If you had to hone your brand down to just one word, what would it be?

A solid cultural association is gold

How do you know if a friend has seen the ad? You simply ask ‘wassup?’ It has since sparked multiple culture reincarnations – from a scene in Scary Movie to an episode of friends, from a political endorsement for Barack Obama in 2008 to its more recent outing on the Late Late Show with James Corden. ‘Wassup?’ lives on, 21 years after its reveal.

Be open to ideas from a range of sources

Did you know this ad was inspired by a short film? True, written and directed by Charles Stone III, featured Stone and several of his childhood friends doing exactly what happens on the ad – minus the Bud. Ad-agency DDB saw it at a film festival and took the idea to Anheuser-Busch. This is a stunning example of the benefits of looking for inspiration beyond the expected sphere. Films, novels, poetry, songs, art, Instagram stories – all of these can serve as inspiration.

Gayle Kennedy

Head of Storytelling

Author and 2021 winner of the Brand Narrative Specialists Award, Gayle is a true wordsmith and storyteller, capturing the TOVs of both Velo and our clients. With a love for jazz and a bluesy singing voice, Gayle is happiest up a mountain or wild swimming in a river – in all seasons.