Ad Snacking: A Clydesdale Comes Thundering to Steal My Heart

Feb 12, 2013 11:31 am

Man-horse love makes you cry for Budweiser

Each week in Ad Snacking, former advertising executive turned chef Eli Sussman takes a close look at a recent food advertisement. He'll keep the copy short to guarantee the R.O.I. for procrastinating at your desk stays high.

If I was still in college and had access to LexusNexus, I'd quote a fancy study from a Harvard sociologist titled "Brand Retention and Customer Loyalty: The Success of Brand Engagement During The Super Bowl." But I'm not in college anymore, I'm just in bed. And I don't have access to Lexus Nexus anymore, just Wikipedia. Even though that study is fictional, the truth of the matter is that huge companies hammer you with their brand name so you become loyal. Unless they're releasing a new flavor (Black Crown or Beck's Sapphire — both advertising missteps this year) the whole point of a beer ad during the Super Bowl is just to make sure that if you EVER think of beer, the only company you can think of is theirs. So Budweiser went back to what it knows works — the Clydesdale — and won the USA Today 2013 Ad Meter with a heartwarming tale of man-horse love that only shows a bottle of Bud for a scant 3 seconds. 


Product: A
The "I THINK I NEED TO CALL MY FATHER" Teary-Eyed Beer Commercial 
All around America, this commercial caused that weird face where you look up and roll your eyes, kind of making yourself look like the girl from The Ring and stretching your mouth down to keep from crying. The ad had people saying things like "Wow Larry, the onions in this 7 layer dip are strong!" and "I think I have some Buffalo sauce in my eye, if you'll excuse me for a second." THIS is what the Super Bowl is about. Not football, not food, not camaraderie or athletic achievement. It's about an advertisement that is so powerful and touching that it somehow connects on a personal level with everyone, making millions of people weak in the knees and tearing up all together. 

Message: A
The "THEY USED FLEETWOOD MAC TO MAKE ME EMOTIONAL?" Teary-Eyed Beer Commercial 
I had to reserve the A+ for the Jeep "Whole Again" ad, which portrayed family members eagerly awaiting soldiers returning home. I'd rather not dive into the political implications of that ad, but I will admit that in search of Ad Snacking videos I have once or twice fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole watching soldier homecoming videos. And my god is that good TV. Here, Budweiser went straight for the gut by licensing "Landslide," which perfectly relates the man's loneliness after he gives up the Clydesdale he's raised. I've never raised or owned a horse, but I felt this guy's pain. He's in the heartland of America, it's a cold gray day, he's drinking a Budweiser alone and all he wants to do is see his horse again! When this ad came on all I thought was, "Why am I sandwiched in between two huge dudes on the couch and have to navigate a minefield of human bodies and snack plates to make it to the Kleenex?? Oh god, don't cry in public. Oh, too late. Great, now I'm crying at a beer commercial in public."

Creativity: B 
The "ISN'T THIS A CHRISTIAN THE LION RIP-OFF?" Teary-Eyed Beer Commercial 
I understand why this ad won the USA Today Ad Meter. It's a man from the heartland missing his horse — classic Americana imagery. And the Clydesdale is as synonymous with the Super Bowl as football, so it makes sense. The only problem is that I've seen this before, so I was forced to dock creativity points from Budweiser. Christian the Lion is perhaps the greatest YouTube video of all time. It's made millions of people cry before, and it didn't have some ulterior motive like selling beer. So I've got to withhold the perfect 3 A's, because when it comes down to successful brand engagement to win my loyalty during the Super Bowl, I'm one tough customer.

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