Having created the nation's hottest catch phrase practically overnight, Budweiser's "Whassup?!" ad campaign has now conquered the advertising world.

The popular commercial series captured the world's most prestigious advertising award, the Grand Prix for Film at the 47th Annual International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France. This marks just the third time in the last decade that a United States company has won the Grand Prix for Film.

"We're thrilled the Budweiser 'Whassup?!' campaign has received the International Advertising Festival's Grand Prix for Film, the world's premier advertising award," said August A. Busch IV, vice president of marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "We're even more pleased over how the ads have been received by our consumers. The combination of award-winning advertising and positive consumer response is contributing to tremendous momentum for Budweiser."

The Grand Prix follows the "Whassup?!" campaign earning another coveted advertising honor, the Grand Clio for Television, awarded in New York last month.

In addition to the Grand Prix for "Whassup?!," Anheuser-Busch earned two Bronze Lions for Film at the Festival. Budweiser's "Louie the Lizard" campaign was honored for an ad titled "Ferret Expose," along with a spot titled "Check ID" from the company's "We All Make a Difference" campaign. The winning ad promotes carding and its effect on limiting underage drinking.

The Festival's film jury was comprised of 22 advertising executives from 17 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. They viewed more than 5,700 television commercials from around the world before awarding the Grand Prix to Budweiser. Various Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions also were presented.

"Whassup?!" Features Real-Life Friends

The concept for the Budweiser "Whassup?!" ads came from Charles Stone III, a director with Storm Films in New York. Stone has exchanged the "Whassup?!" greeting with his friends for about 15 years, and in 1998 he created a short film titled "True," in which he and his buddies sit in an apartment and exchange the greeting.

DDB Worldwide, Chicago, saw the film, and after presenting the idea to Budweiser, collaborated with Stone to adapt the concept for the ads. Stone directed the spots and stars in the campaign with several of his real-life friends from the original film. The aim of the ads is to present a common bond of friendship among a group of friends in a humorous way.

"The popularity of the 'Whassup?!' campaign has exceeded our expectations and provided a promotional bust for Budweiser like nothing we've ever seen," said Busch. "While it's difficult to link sales results to a single advertising campaign, the 'Whassup?!' ads and surrounding buzz have contributed to a 4.8 percent growth rate in Budweiser supermarket sales for the first five months of 2000, compared to the same period last year. If the brand continues on its current overall sales trend for the remainder of the year, Budweiser would post its best trend in 10 years."

Four ads were developed for the initial phase of the campaign, including "True," the Grand Clio Award-winning 60-second spot; and three 30-second spots, "Call Waiting," "Pizza Guy," and "Girlfriend," an ad that first aired on Super Bowl XXXIV. A new series of 30-second ads recently has joined the initial lineup, including "Wasabi," "The Game" and "Dream Girls."

The International Advertising Festival -- Cannes Lions -- is the world's most prestigious advertising competition. Each year, more than 8,000 delegates from the advertising and allied industries attend the event to celebrate creativity in all major media and discuss industry issues. Winning companies receive the coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions, honoring the most creative TV/film, print, outdoor and online advertising, as well as the best media strategies.

Brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the world's leading brewer, Budweiser is the best-selling beer in the world.