Steve Dildarian

March 2, 2007

COPYWRITER Steve Dildarian

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

Steve Dildarian, the 35-year-old copywriter behind the Budweiser lizards and the brand’s latest spokesanimal, the eager young donkey introduced last year on the Super Bowl, knew back in high school that he wanted to write comedy for television. “I was an absurd Honeymooners fan and trivia buff,” he says. “I had pictures of Ralph Kramden up on my wall.”

In his nine years at Goodby, Dildarian has spent most of his time on Budweiser. He got his early advertising comedy training at Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York, working on Little Caesars, and says his sense of humor is rooted in comedy classics and his upbringing in the New Jersey suburbs. “It’s more than just throw a pie in a guy’s face and make everyone laugh,” he says. “[Cliff] kind of instilled a renegade spirit toward the way I look at work. He taught me, you know, nothing is unrealistic, nothing’s too far or too much.”

Although he looks and sounds a lot like comedian Ray Romano, colleagues say Dildarian reminds them more of Larry David. “He’s a pain in the ass,” laughs art director Tyler Magnusson. “He’s a very detailed guy. From start to finish, he’s always trying to make the work better.” Jeff Goodby says Dildarian’s humor comes from being a bit of a “weird lone wolf” but that his success on Bud comes from being “totally tireless. He’s like these guys that get around the table and write sitcoms in that sort of indefatigable way. They can do it and do it and do it and think and think and think. That’s the way he is on Bud.”

Dildarian’s talents go beyond copywriting. He provides the voice of one of the ad guys in Budweiser’s online “Rejected Ads” series and that of the lovable Budweiser donkey. “There is a true sadness to the voice that the donkey needed,” explains Magnusson.

Creating dialogue and nuances of personality in the studio is the best part of the job, says Dildarian. He particularly enjoyed creating Louie and Frank, the Bud lizards. Introduced in 1997, they reappeared last year in the Bud Light/ Miller Lite ad spat that mimicked political attack ads. “I had never been involved in something where you see an ad on TV, and two days later we’re writing an ad responding to it,” Dildarian says. “It was fun.”

After nearly a decade at Goodby, Dildarian, who has also worked on Ace, Discover and Saturn, is still technically a freelancer. That gives him time for other interests, like writing TV scripts (he almost got an animated series off the ground a few years back) and painting. His freelance status has become a running joke at the agency. “I get the same flack with my relationship. We’ve been dating longer than most people are married,” says Dildarian, who has been with his girlfriend for 12 years. “I don’t do things ’cause you’re supposed to, ’cause that’s the way everyone does it.”