Spuds MacKenzie was a fictional dog character created for use in an advertising campaign marketing Bud Light beer in the late 1980s. The Spuds MacKenzie mascot and campaign were created by Anheuser-Busch marketing executive Michael Roarty. The dog first showed up in a Bud Light Super Bowl XXI ad in 1987. During the height of his popularity, large amounts of Spuds merchandise was available, such as plush toys and t-shirts.
The dog, a Bull Terrier, existed not without his share of controversy. Shortly after Spuds' rise to fame it was learned that the dog, who was portrayed as male in the commercials, was actually female. The ads were also the subject of attacks and calls for censorship by temperance-oriented groups. Soon after the ads were first aired in 1987, Senator Strom Thurmond began his own media campaign, claiming that the beer maker was using Spuds to appeal to children for the purpose of getting them interested in their product at an early age. By Christmas 1987, more legal action resulted from Budweiser's use of ads featuring Spuds dressed as Santa, which is illegal in states such as Ohio.
In his late-1980s anti-“sellout” anthem, “This Note’s for You” (the title of which parodies Budweiser’s “This Bud’s for You” ad campaign), Neil Young says he “ain’t singing for Spuds” in the title track. The dog also appears throughout the music video for the same song.
The commercial's use of skinny females as a standard of beauty inspired Sir Mix A Lot to write "Baby Got Back" in retort.
Referenced in an episode of The Golden Girls, titled "Larceny and Old Lace", which first aired in 1988.
The song "Selfish" by Slum Village featuring Kanye West includes a line in which West says "I spotted her like Spud MacKenzie.
The song "Mans Best Friend" by Ice Cube off his album Death Certificate includes a line "And I can't do that with Benji, Rin Tin Tin Or Spuds Mackenzie"
In the Family Guy episode “Brian Writes a Bestseller,” a very old Spuds MacKenzie is portrayed to be in a reality show like Rock of Love, with a group of women told to sleep with Spuds as he lies on the couch.
An issue of MAD Magazine in the late 80's had a study of how cultural standards are going downhill, as one example, tracing how America's favorite dog went from Lassie to Benji to Spuds MacKenzie.
A story arc in the comic strip Bloom County involved a drunken Spuds wandering into town and causing chaos.
In the April 19th 2012 episode "Live Ammo" of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, a background information sheet on a bull terrier up for adoption is noted as being the great-grandson of Spuds MacKenzie.
In Pixar's film Toy Story, the character Sid has a dog that resembles Spuds, but instead is named "Scud".