Budweiser & The Super Bowl: 40 Years of Masterful Storytelling
With the launch of its latest Super Bowl ad, “Born the Hard Way,” Budweiser once again demonstrates its genius in telling masterful stories that make a lasting impression. The commercial takes us on an epic journey as Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch travels from Germany to St. Louis where he would meet Ebert Anheuser, and eventually realizes his dream of brewing the King of Beers.
With its immigrant theme and timing, the spot somewhat unexpectedly entered into the hotly charged political fray. The company maintains it wasn’t looking to make a political statement, but instead wanted to show that Budweiser stands “For those people that have a dream and work very hard until they make the dream come true.”
Intentional or not, Budweiser has been quite adept at changing the feel of its commercials to appeal to an expanding target audience and to the mood of the country as a whole. Its ever-evolving approach to storytelling reflects in many ways the dynamic American saga, leaving us to wonder, both as consumers and as citizens — what’s next?
- 1979: This Bud’s for You
In this iconic 1979 spot, Bud saluted the rugged, All-American, blue-collar worker. Later, in 1986, the Clydesdales made their first appearance in a Super Bowl ad, even though Budweiser first introduced them in 1933 to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition.
- 1995: Frogs
To reach out to a younger demographic, Budweiser reinvented itself with animatronic frogs who belched out the words Bud – Weis – Er. They did not replace the Clydesdales, however, who continued on as a mainstay of many Super Bowl commercials, showcasing both warm and funny tales.
- 2000: Whassup
The lighter tone continued with Whassup, where friends are just sitting around, “watchin’ the game, havin’ a Bud” and greeting each other with a phrase that became a global phenomenon. One of the most memorable campaigns ever, Whassup helped continue Budweiser’s evolution.
- 2002: 9/11 Tribute
Aired only once, this dramatic tribute featured the Clydesdales kneeling at the Statue of Liberty. It is surely among the company’s most powerful spots. Budweiser had concern that the commercial might draw criticism, but it remains one of the most beautiful tributes to the victims of 9/11.
- 2008: Rocky
In this Rocky spoof, Hank the Clydesdale is coached by a Dalmatian to earn a place on the team pulling the Budweiser wagon. Ranked at the top of many “Best of” lists, it is both amusing, touching and inspiring.
- 2014: Puppy Love
As we moved further into the 2000s, Budweiser started targeting a wider audience and telling stories that elicited more emotional reactions. Stories went right for the heart strings, such as a poignant reunion between a Clydesdale and his trainer, and a similar reunion in 2014 between an adopted puppy and his best friend Clydesdale horse.