Greatest Marketing Campaign Analysis – Television Ads

Original Budweiser Clydesdale Commercial – “Here Comes The King”

The first Budweiser Clydesdales commercial aired in 1967 – and it is still one of the best. The jingle has stayed in the minds of Americans for decades: “Here comes the King, here comes the Big Number One.” The commercial is still played for fans at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The objective of the ad back during the time could have been to introduce a beer drinker to the brand and persuade purchasers to choose this brand of beer because of their claim of being number one. The ad screams the adjectives; big, American company, we’re number one which is pleasing to current customers of the brand and makes them proud to be associated with the name.

The iconic Budweiser Clydesdales are a multi-million dollar operation, and all the horses are born and bred in-house. The animals represent the quality, heritage, and tradition of the company. The company’s horse farms take care of the needs of 175 horses around the country, and they breed about 40 horses per year. Not all of the horses are eligible to make the team. All teams horses are male and must meet stringent marking standards; white blaze, black mane and tail,  dark bay in color and four white stocking feet. Those that do not make the team are sold for about $5000 while some of the females are kept for breeding stock. The Clydesdale connection dates back to 1933 when August Busch Jr surprised his father by having the horses parade down a St. Louis street carrying beer to celebrate the end of prohibition. They have been breeding the animals since 1940.

Football – 1996 (2 Clydesdale teams playing football)

The Budweiser Clydesdales have been a part of the big game since the 1986 Super Bowl, when the Clydesdales tromped through the snow while a chorus chirped “when you say, Bud, you’ve said it all.” The Clydesdales appeared during the 1991, ’92 and ’95 Super Bowls. But the 1996 ad set a new standard by featuring the horses playing football in a snow-covered mountain meadow. Jeff Knapper, Anheuser-Busch’s general manager for Clydesdale operations, said a team of Clydesdales trained near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for several months to prepare for the commercial shoot. The horses were trained individually to make specific moves and then in groups. “I’d say 95 percent of the stuff you see is real stuff, real horses doing it,” Knapper said. The only exception was the football being kicked by a fake hoof. “They can kick with their back legs, but that action isn’t natural.” The emotional response elicited from this ad is that of disbelief that horses are playing football until our two cowboys speak in monotone voices and that they act as if it is not that bit of a deal. And as a matter of fact, from a football fan perspective, they messed up the play and usually go for two points, not just one. The popularity of the company’s commercials was bound to solidify its customer base.

Rocky 2008

Flashback to gym class at your elementary school – everyone else has been chosen for the team. Thunder makes the team, and there stands Hank, and he’s told by one of the trainers, “Maybe next year Hank.” Dalmatian dog, the horse’s friend, enters the scene and decides to help train the horse for next year’s team. The marketing team elicits the emotions of overcoming and becoming a winner by playing the music from the movie “Rocky.” The horse is pictured in some of the most iconic training scenes; running and lifting weight together, working out in the rain, pulling large objects leading to larger objects, storytelling magic! Guess who overcomes and makes the team? Hank! And he gets a big, high-five from his friend Dalmatian dog!

Puppy Love 2013

Anheuser-Busch’s marketing team carved out their slice of the commercial arena by using storytelling in their ad development. Instead of making us laugh, they tried to make us cry happy tears without any focus on their main product – beer. Instead, the ad focuses on a heart-warming relationship between our characters the puppy, horse, and trainer. Human beings, in general, are emotional and can be led to purchase items based on those emotions, whether subconsciously or consciously. One might think that the puppy love ad is targeting women, but there are masculine undertones in the commercial with its massive Clydesdales and rugged trainer making it appealing to both genders.


Lost Dog 2015

The marketing team continued story telling another year, trying to build on previous years successes. In this story, we see the unity and protectiveness of the horses with the puppy. I know why people like this commercial – the warm fuzzies. I get that Budweiser was telling a ‘buds’ story utilizing their iconic Clydesdales. But the horses became secondary in the story to the cute puppy. Not until the end of the commercial does it appear they are trying to sell beer – in the closing, they show their logo, their hashtag message and their PSA “drink responsibly.” The ad continues to draw in customers who love traditional Americana, drinking beer to socialize and relax.

I’m a Miller Lite fan myself, but when that choice is not available, I will choose a Bud Light because of all their cute commercials over the years – yep, I’m a sucker!!

3 Replies to “Greatest Marketing Campaign Analysis – Television Ads”

  1. It was interesting to to learn the history of the Clydesdale and how they fit in to the Budweiser story. They use teh horsee to carefully craft and on-going story. The allow the Cydesdale to stand in for human while playing football. They use nostaglia and a well know figure to again ascribe human characteristics to the horses. The puppy takes on the cute, gentle image of it’s female owner, while the Clydesdale represent the rugged, tough image of it’s owners. The puppy’s persistence brings them together. The final commercial leads us to believe the puppy and Clydesdale united their owners and the puppy goes missing. The bond between #BestBuds, leads the group of Clydesdales to rescue their friend. Budweiser’s marketing team has told a compelling, endearing and long lasting story. This is the kind of relationships they want with their customers and it pays off with their storytelling versus overt advertising.

  2. You’ve got quite the Budweiser collection! You’d like my post, I have one Budweiser ad in mine too…but don’t worry, it’s not the Clydesdale ads. What I’m taking away from this is that when you have a symbol for your company (in the form of an advertisement), then you can continue to associate that symbol with the brand. For Budweiser, they chose a Clydesdale horse…so now when someone sees a Clydesdale horse, they also see Budweiser. Just like the GECIO gecko, the Coca-Cola polar bear, the Target Bull Terrier…and so on. That’s why I believe these ads are so effective.

  3. Hi Tabitha,
    I enjoyed your TV ads. One thing that I appreciation is how you gave the history of the image used in the Budweiser commercial. This allowed me to appreciate the meaning the Horse has in each commercial. Likewise, the commercials surely makes you thirsty after seeing all the action and movement being taken place.
    Thanks for sharing.

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