New & Notable: 'Wassup' guys make a sad-sack comeback

— -- Eight years after they first appeared in a short film, then gained fame in Budweiser ads, the "Wassup" guys are back — backing Barack Obama.

A video posted on YouTube shows the guys in dire straits: One is in Iraq, one is losing his home and one tries to commit suicide after checking his stocks. The clip was directed by Charles Stone III, creator of the original True film, who sold rights to Anheuser-Busch in a five-year deal now expired.

Decidedly darker than the film and Bud ads, Stone says his video is "realistic" about life today. "It's effective for Americans to see these guys going through hard times."

A-B, which has no control over the catchphrase associated with Bud, had no comment.

Stone added a disclaimer to the video that the views are his, not A-B's. "It's a politically partisan piece. It wouldn't be fair to Budweiser if I didn't put the disclaimer on it."

Milking teen attention

The California Milk Processor Board is appealing to teen girls' vanity to entice them to down more moo juice. Last week, it sent milk-touting emery boards, nail polishes and compact mirrors to 75 California nail salons. "According to our research, milk is great for your hair and nails and skin," Executive Director Steve James says.

The beauty products direct teens to, where faux rock star White Gold plays a clear guitar filled with milk. Milk consumption by teen girls "is pretty flat," James says. "We'd like it to be increasing."

New kosher rolls

The world of kosher eating has come to this: kosher sushi. Kosherfest, the largest show for the $9 billion kosher-food industry (Nov. 11-12 at the Meadowlands in Secaucus, N.J.) will host a kosher sushi cook-off among top chefs.

But Ad Team's interest was more piqued by another of the 350 exhibitors: The Exceptional Brownie, in eight certified kosher flavors. It was "Snack of the Day" on a recent Rachael Ray show.

Retailing 101

Victoria's Secret is giving collegians a crash course in marketing, public relations — and ethics.

It hired students to tout its Pink loungewear on 15 campuses where it is collecting old sweats to donate to domestic-violence shelters (and students can buy new ones at temporary VS stores).

In a related promotion, it's asked for online votes for schools to add to the 33 that have their names featured on Pink products. Geeks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hacked the system and gave MIT millions of votes before VS techies cut them off and enforced a "no cheating" policy. Wasn't that already a principle of higher education?

Hold the HFCS

First, Jason's Deli dumped trans fats. Then MSG. Now, it claims to be the first national restaurant chain to ban foods with high-fructose corn syrup. Many foodmakers favor the sweetener that's cheaper than sugar and extends shelf life. But some folks fear health effects, such as possible higher risk of obesity, though some experts say it is nutritionally the same as sugar.

Rusty Coco, executive vice president, sees another benefit. "We found that removing HFCS actually makes food taste better." What should Jason's cut next? Maybe a few of the 1,906 calories in its Taco Salad with Southwest Chicken Chili?

Not all ad spending gloom for 2009

Among 1,200 top ad and marketing executives at the mid-October Association of National Advertisers conference, only a third were downbeat about 2009 spending plans vs. 2008. Their plans:

• Increase spending more than 10%: 26%

• Increase spending less than 10%: 13%

• Hold spending stable: 28%

• Decrease spending less than 10%: 14%

• Decrease spending more than 10%: 19%

By Laura Petrecca, Bruce Horovitz and Theresa Howard