Party on with the original party animal!
As the official mascot of Budweiser’s Bud Light beer, Spuds MacKenzie was a bull terrier that was the Hawaiian-shirt-and-sunglasses-wearing life of the party. Whether on the beach or in a tavern, whenever and wherever Spuds appeared the party was ready to begin, with Spuds taking the spotlight.
In a marketing campaign conceived by Jon Moore with the Needham, Harper and Steer advertising agency in Chicago, Spuds first appeared on Bud Light-sponsored posters distributed on college campuses in 1986. Wearing a fraternity sweatshirt that read Delta Omicron Gamma (DOG) and party hat, the poster caption proclaimed Spuds as “The Original Party Animal.”
The poster was an instant hit and led to Spuds MacKenzie’s first appearance in a television commercial that debuted during Super Bowl XXI on January 25, 1987. In a nod to the popular syndicated program, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” several commercials featured narration by an impersonator of Robin Leach, the program’s host. In addition to a variety of posters, the likeness of Spuds soon appeared on a huge variety of promotional items also bearing the Bud Light logo – magnets, hats, T-shirts, mugs and more.
Despite his popularity, Spuds’ image was not without controversy. Fans eventually learned the pooch that portrayed the original party animal was named Honey Tree Evil Eye or “Evie” and was actually female. Additionally, several watchdog organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, raised concerns that Spuds’ comedic persona appealed to children and might encourage underage consumption of alcohol.
The advertising campaign increased the sales of Bud Light 20% following the introduction of the Spuds character, but by late 1989, Budsweiser ended the campaign after stating that the character had proved to be more popular than the brand it promoted.