As a follow-up to the Ant commercials, I decided to do an article on this critter, the Budweiser Anteater. Much like how I kept the Budweiser Chameleons, Tree Frog, Gator, & Ferret as separate articles from the Frog article. I felt it was appropriate to do the same for this character as well. Specially when there’s a lot to talk about that would have made last week’s article too long. So after going through some backstories on this creature, I proudly present the Budweiser Anteater for this week’s article.
The commercial starts with an anteater sitting next to an ant hill in the middle of a desert. As we see him sitting there, we also see a bottle of Budweiser in the foreground, stuck upside down in another ant hill nearby. The anteater then starts to snuffle about, snorting and kicking up the dust beneath him. He then sticks his long nose into the empty ant hill, searching for ants with his long sticky tongue. The critter starts to breathe deeply inside the mound as he hopes to suck up some ants that are probably hiding inside. As he tries to vacuum the inside of the ant hole, the Bud bottle that was previously motionless starts to move. It’s as though its being tugged by some ants below, until suddenly the bottle disappears underground. As the anteater continues to suck inside the mound, something ends up covering his snout and its not an ant. The anteater’s eyes widen in a Joe Dante style, and he pulls his nose from the hole. He discovered that he accidentally sucked the empty Bud bottle onto the end of his snout! As he sits there with his nose covered, confused and trying with all his might to pull it off, he then sees his prey walking by with a new bottle of Budweiser. One of the ants does a victory dance in front of him to the tune of the Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive”(Which I swore I thought it was sung by women until I actually learned who the heck Bee Gee was), while the other ants carry a new, ice-cold bottle of Budweiser. The commercial concludes with the usual tagline and it turns out that either the trap for the anteater was unintentional or the ants knew the anteater would fall for the trap. Either way the ants now have some beer and amusement.
While the Budweiser Ants commercials were produced by the ad agency called DDB Needham and animated by the Digital Domain company. This time those two companies teamed up with the Character Shop company under the supervision of Rick Lazzarini in order to create the Anteater. Which was a fully functional animatronic puppet that took only four weeks to construct. Research was made possible, when the special effects team took a trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo to study the anteaters that are in captivity there. Photographs, video footage, and reference books made the job easier for the team to create the creature. The puppet is life-size and resembles an average anteater with the exception of its eyes. In order for its snot to fit inside the bottle prop, it’s height had to be scaled up to 15% more. While the desert featured in the commercial was an actual outdoor location. Vasquez Rocks was the place, located southwest of Palmdale, CA. The park in general is famous for its rock formations which lead it to be a famous filming location for hundreds of TV shows and movies. In particular this was the same location used as the Command Center from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers(Or American version of Super Sentai) and the planet where Captain Kirk fights against a Gorn in a set up death match in the Arena episode. While the movies that used this park are Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, Little Miss Sunshine, Holes, Jingle All the Way(Turbo Man TV show scene), 2001 Planet of the Apes, Austin Powers Original, 1994 Flintstones, Army of Darkness, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home, Short Circuit, Blazing Saddles, & the original Dracula.
The animatronic puppet was animated by a combination of hand, rod and radio controls, and it took a total of five skilled puppeteers to operate. Three of the performers worked underneath a raised 4 foot-high platform using rod puppetry (with mechanical enhancements) to animate the anteater’s hands, feet, and head. Two other puppeteers used radio control to animated sophisticated mechanisms in the anteater’s snout, nose snuffle, mouth, eyes, ears, and brow. The anteater also was able to look as if it were breathing as two Whoopee cushions were placed under its chest fur which expanded and retracted. For the shot where the anteater snorts, creating clouds of dust, a flexible tube ran from the tip of its’ snout to a can of compressed air. Two short taps on the valve trigger were enough for the snorts to kick up dirt realistically.
I vaguely remember seeing this commercial along with the other Budweiser Ant commercial. Despite the critter being in only one commercial, I do regard the anteater to be one of the most memorable one shot characters for the Budweiser commercials. I’m surprised a crossover between the Budweiser Ants & Budweiser Frogs never came about. It’s a commercial I would have created, except with a dozen more beer mascots. With the article on this critter published, I’m officially done talking about the Budweiser Ant series. For the next beer article, it’ll be about a lobster who also happens to love beer.