Thanks to Michael Geist for mentioning this in his blog:
You may remember the "Wassup?" Budweiser ads from some years back, which featured, well, various men screaming "wassup?" at each other. A simple yet oddly memorable ad campaign. The original cast recently reunited to film a clever two-minute video in favor of the Obama candidacy that's been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube. As political statements go, by the way, it is extraordinarily understated.
The interesting thing is the story behind the rights to the "Wassup?" idea. Budweiser had nothing to do with the new pro-Obama video; apparently it had only licensed the rights for five years, after which they reverted to Charles Stone III, the director of the original "Wassup?" commercial. You can read more about that in Burt Helm's "Brand New Day" blog for Business Week here.
There are two takeaway points here: First, where entertainment is concerned, much is recycled to take advantage of people's familiarity with the original. Stone was smart (or maybe just lucky) because he can now use the same idea to bring his message to millions, building on the foundation of consumer familiarity that Budweiser paid for. Second, this serves as a reminder to consider carefully what happens to licensed IP at the end of the license term, and how long that term is going to run. Licensees, you may want an option to extend a license that is successful; and licensors, you may want the ability to renegotiate the terms in such a case.