Ad Analysis – Budweiser’s Tribute

By Billy Walsh

Budweiser has been well known for its traditional Clydesdale commercials. These commercials debut every year during the Super Bowl and capture the heart of the American people. Usually, it is the cuteness of the horses, or recently dogs, which captures the emotional aspect of the viewer. However, Budweiser once aired a commercial that captured America not because of any animals, but because its impactful tribute.

During Super Bowl 36 in 2002, Budweiser aired a commercial remembering the vicious attacks of September 11th, 2001. The commercial was filmed in the snow with overcast skies and features the Clydesdales crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and kneeling in a park before Ground Zero. Anheuser-Busch, the owner of Budweiser, spent approximately three million dollars and required special authorization from the government and the city of New York to film on location. Budweiser only aired this commercial once.

Now move forward nine and a half years later, on September 11th, 2011, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Budweiser re-aired a revised edition of their famous commercial. The commercial features blue skies and green grass, both to symbolize the prosperity and regrowth of the country since the attacks. A very noticeable difference is at the end of the commercial when the viewer sees the new One World Trade Center under construction. Similar to the original commercial, Anheuser-Busch chose to only air the commercial once.

In total, this commercial, and the other variation, only have aired twice as Budweiser did not unleash the commercial for financial benefit, rather to just honor the victims.

Both commercials contain large amounts of symbolism and American patriotism. The commercials begin at a stable in St. Louis, Missouri as the famous Budweiser Clydesdales are being prepped to march to New York. The Clydesdales pass through a small town, grasping the attention of a local small business owner, the cornerstone to the American people and hometowns. Next, the majestic horses are seen crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan (Battery Park), which was the home to the Twin Towers. Finally, the horses stop in a park, with view of the New York City Skyline in front and the Statue of Liberty across the Hudson River to the right, and take a knee to pay tribute to the victims of the tragic day. It is a capstone moment that leaves the viewer breathless.

Although both commercials are represented the same theme, each commercial puts off a different mood. The 2002 commercial reflect a country still grieving. This can be seen through the snow on the ground and overcast skies of the dead winter. The commercial represents that the healing is only in its beginning stages. The second commercial depicts a country that has grown strong. With green grass and blue skies, the country has turned the page and has prospered since that tragedy. The commercial also provides a feeling of satisfaction when off in the distance you can see Freedom Tower (The One World Trade Center). This building (still under construction at the time) is the permanent replacement to the Twin Towers and is located next door to Ground Zero.

Nothing can be more patriotic than paying respect to those who lost their lives in the worst terroristic attack that the United States has ever seen. Also, since Budweiser made the commercial to honor the victims and not have the economic benefits of a multi-million dollar commercial is highly respectable. The company spent millions on two ads that only aired once. However, these commercials have gone viral and have definitely benefitted Budweiser in one way or another. Who wouldn’t want to go purchase a case of Budweiser at his or her local beer store after seeing this commercial? The newly earned respect would bring forth people wishing to support the Anheuser-Busch Company. Budweiser really hit home with this advertisement. This commercial has become one the most viewed ads of all time.

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