The King of Beers wants to get its horses back in the national Super Bowl ad race.
After using the Clydesdales sparingly in an ad that aired only in a handful of local markets televising the Big Game in 2023, Anheuser-Busch is bringing the stately horses back to the Super Bowl’s main stage – 30 seconds of ad time that will be included in CBS’ February 11 telecast of the event (and 60 on the company’s digital venues).
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All it took to get the famous equines back in front of a big audience was a message appropriate for a wide crowd.
Viewers will see the horses helping a small town brought to a standstill by a snowstorm. As the famous Band song “The Weight” plays in the background, the horses nudge their owner to lend a hand by delivering beer to a nearby by – the old-fashioned way, with a carriage drawn by the steeds. When the weather halts their progress, a friendly Labrador – another staple of Budweiser Super Bowl commercials – trots out to guide their way.
The ad ends with a message — “Delivering Since 1876″ — that might lift the spirits of the football crowds as well as Budweiser’s system of distributors and employees.
The message that “we deliver more than just beer” is something the brewing giant wanted to share “with all of America,” says Kristina Punwani, the executive who heads up marketing for Budweiser in the U.S., during an interview.
The Clydesdales have become a Super Bowl favorite, appearing in the commercials that support the NFL extravaganza on 45 different occasions. But their presence is not guaranteed, and largely depends on whether executives at Anheuser-Busch feel they have a creative concept that meets the moment.
The horses typically appear when the brewing giant wants to pull on emotions, feelings of pride, and, occasionally, the funny bone. In 2002, the animals helped a nation heal in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. In 2014 and 2015, a Labrador pup joined the team to spotlight friendship.
“The Clydesdales are always something that’s up for discussion and up for consideration,” says Punwani. “And this year, it just felt like the right moment to bring them back.”
That isn’t always the case. In 2023, the horses appeared briefly in a spot that ran in a handful of markets during local ad time sold by individual TV stations, part of a bid to focus on areas where Anheuser-Busch felt it could reach a larger proportion of young consumers. In 2021, the brewer benched Budweiser from the Big Game in favor of a message telling consumers to get the coronavirus vaccine. With viewers focused that year on a global pandemic, Coke and Pepsi also took their flagship products out of the Super Bowl rotation.
Anheuser-Busch InBev may be thinking nationally this year, but its efforts will include some local touches. The Clydesdales will bringing Budweiser to bars around the city in much the same fashion as they do in the Super Bowl spot. One of the people trying to help deliver the beer in the ad is Fred Dana, who has been a Budweiser wholesaler for more than 34 years. “He’s someone who really fits the bill for us,” says Punwani.
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