Who is Spuds MacKenzie?
In 1987, the New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos and won their first Super Bowl ever. The ads featured during the event included a Diet Pepsi spot where Michael J. Fox leaped out his window, ran through traffic, and intimidated some bikers on his way to getting a sugar water drink for his attractive female neighbor. Pierce Bronsan also defeated a ninja for a Diet Coke. But the Back to the Future star and the future James Bond were not the only stars on display that night.
The first set of Spuds MacKenzie commercials, which you can view above, followed a pretty strict formula: a party is going on, a dog named Spuds MacKenzie arrives with some Bud Lights, and people lose their shit. That's literally it. There's a Beach Boys-lite theme song in one version that dubs him "a super party animal," and the jingle gets a reggae and country remix in the other spots. Sometimes Spuds wears sunglasses. Sometimes he rides a skateboard. In one ad, he plays the drums.
Like many things from the '80s, Spuds MacKenzie is so defiantly low-concept that he can be a little difficult to explain. As noted in this excellent Mental Floss history of Spuds, the ads were designed to be slick parodies that used "overt self-awareness" to cater to the audience's hip sensibility. The simplicity of the ads -- or the dumbness, depending on how you view it -- flattered viewers who thought they could see through cheesy commercials.
Does the dog have a catchphrase? No. Does he talk? No. Do bikini-clad women in the commercials imply they want to have sex with him? Yes. If you compare the "classic" '80s version of the ad to the new one, that creepy, leering quality has been replaced with a more modern message about the canine beer enthusiast wanting you to spend time with your male and female friends. Apparently in his ghostly form, Spuds is less of a lothario.
But the women shown in the commercials had a surprising cultural impact: they inadvertently inspired Sir Mix-A-Lot's classic hip-hop song "Baby Got Back," which came out in 1992. "You had these Spuds MacKenzie girls, little skinny chicks looking like stop signs, with big hair and skinny bodies," the rapper later said in an interview with the AV Club. "I did it as a knee-jerk response to that kind of stuff. I didn't think it would ever be popular, but there were a lot of chicks out there with the J. Lo body, and they wore sweaters around their waists because they were told that they had fat asses–in a negative way, not in a good way."