Budweiser’s New Super Bowl Ad: A Clydesdale Wins Again

After sitting out last year’s Super Bowl in favor of making a publicized contribution to COVID-19 vaccine awareness, Anhueser Busch’s Budweiser is returning to the Super Bowl with the Chloé Zhao (Nomadland, The Eternals) directed spot titled “A Clydesdale’s Journey.” As teased last week the spot includes a Clydesdale horse, a symbol of the Budweiser brand since 1933, and a dog, reminiscent of some past Super Bowl ads for the brand. While some may criticize the ad for having too many similarities with some previous Bud ads, this one works and is destined to be a big hit with millions of viewers.

The creative concept for the ad, developed by Vayner Media, focuses on a Clydesdale getting injured while jumping a fence and then shows its path toward recovery, including overcoming setbacks, while a faithful yellow Labrador looks in on it. The commercial concludes by showing the recovered horse galloping powefully and stating that “In the Home of the Brave, Down Never Means Out.” The creators designed the ad to mimic the idea that in spite of significant obstacles, the traditional character of the American spirit will allow the U.S. to recover from tring times and come back with strength and resilience. And as with 2015’s classic “Lost Dog” spot (see below), the story is emotional.

Daniel Blake, Group VP of Marketing, Budweiser & Value at Anheuser Busch describes the rationale for the ad, “Budweiser has a history of supporting the country through difficult times and reminding communities across America that better days are ahead. With this Super Bowl spot, our goal was to highlight the perseverance and determination of the country and depict that by coming together, we can grow and move forward stronger than before.”


From a marketing perspective, the spot works on multiple levels. Chloé Zhao’s visuals are stunning, and the storytelling is compelling, being both gritty and connecting on an emotional level. In terms of branding, Budweiser’s image as a classic American brand is reinforced, and the use of the popular Clydesdale theme reinforces the brand’s long heritage and suggests authenticity. In the context of the Super Bowl, traditional U.S. brands (even if owned by a multinational conglomerate) have a special opportunity in emphasizing heritage in the Super Bowl, which, in addition to being a football game, is an important pop-culture event in the country. 

While the use of animals in Super Bowl ads is not new and may not seem innovative, the fact that so many Americans love pets makes the use of a yellow Lab clever as the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the U.S. In addition to reinforcing brand heritage, the storyline tugs at the heartstrings and delivers an ultimately uplifting message. As Zhao observes, “We all fall down in life and the journey to healing is often painful, long and solitary. To tell a story of perseverance, hope and friendship through the lens of the beloved Clydesdales really resonated with me.” She will not be the only one this ad resonates with.

The Tycoon Herald