Breaking up is hard to do

Hot off the press: The New York Times is reporting today that Budweiser is putting their famous clydesdales back in the stables – possibly for good! After years of dwindling sales – some of which can be attributed to cannibalism by its fewer-caloried friend, Bud Light – Budweiser appears to be taking its brand in a new direction to appeal to younger beer drinkers. For many of the people in this MCM cohort, the Clydesdales probably represent a staple in your advertising past. I know I always looked forward to the King of Beers trotting out (sorry, couldn’t help myself) the horses during the Super Bowl. For my money, the “Nah, they usually go for two” ad is as good as it gets.

I write today to first pay appropriate homage to a great ad campaign, but second, to point out how Budweiser has always been able to retire good ads and replace them with something better. Remember when they added a puppy to the Clydesdale spots and the internet exploded? The folks at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis must have a bunch of animal loving Creative Directors; I also recall when the “Bud” “Weis” “Er” frogs upstaged the 1995 Super Bowl. The beverage industry is rich with great advertisements – promoting beer is, after all, pretty easy – but I think Anheuser-Busch has always been exceptional. I’m wondering what other brands have been able to retire iconic campaigns and replace them with great effectiveness? Old Spice is another brand that has a reputation for knocking consecutive campaigns out of the park. Can anyone think of any others?


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9 Responses to Breaking up is hard to do

  1. Jillian says:

    Hi Chris, If I’m being completely honest… I don’t remember Budweiser’s Clydesdales much. I do, however, clearly remember the Budweiser Frogs, even though I was only 7 at the time they aired.

    Speaking on the topic of consecutive awesome campaigns, I think we all know that Apple has had some fairly amazing advertisements in their day and never cease to amaze the masses with their marketing genius. I’ve also been very fond of Geico’s commercials. From the Geico Gecko ads to their caveman ads to their camel hump day ads, they’ve really managed to win a fan in me.

  2. Danielle says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I wanted to share this commercial with you. I am not sure if you have seen it already, but it is the 2013 Superbowl Budweiser ad. The Clydesdales are an iconic symbol of the Budweiser brand. The commercial is touching and emulates the tradition of the Clydesdale as an American staple, as well as the brotherhood between trainer and Clydesdale. In my opinion, it is truly heartwarming.

    • Christopher says:

      Thanks for sharing, Danielle! It really is a beautiful spot. It illustrates Budweiser’s versatility within the campaign. So smart.

  3. Theodore says:

    Perhaps they’re stabled merely for the Holiday advertising as opposed to putting them out to pasture for good. The clydesdales are synonymous with the Budweiser brand and have been used in so many different campaigns. From emotional branding –welcoming American soldiers returning home, for example, to the humorous promotions as you mention. There is history tied to the Budweiser Clydesdales beyond their direct use for advertising as well; in addition to the actual touring clydesdales that appear at local fairs throughout the U.S. We have yet to see how Budweiser’s parent company will replace these icons –if that is the case, but nonetheless, it will be a certain challenge to create something entirely new that equals the brand association the clydesdales provide the brand.

  4. gina says:

    What a fun post Christopher! I’m bummed to hear about the Budweiser Clydesdales but you really got me thinking about other campaign elements I’ve enjoyed over the years…Guinness, Coca-Cola, Nike, Coors, Dodge (for Sam Elliott’s voice), and the list goes on. I don’t watch a lot of TV now so checked out what these companies are doing today through their YouTube channels. All of these companies have seemed to build on or improve their campaigns to evolve with the times and their consumer. What is interesting is that each of these companies use a great deal of emotional appeal within their advertising. Although, maybe they always have and I just didn’t notice before.

    Again I don’t watch a lot of television so was so super impressed by Guinness’ work. My goodness…My Guinness! I wouldn’t normally tell someone to check out ads but yeah check them out 🙂

    Here are two of my favorites –
    Empty Seat:

    Guinness currently has advertising that is as memorable as their toucan and other classic symbols that represent the brand and their current slogan is maybe even more memorable and gripping. Their ads were so effective…I felt proud to have Guinness in my fridge while watching and also felt inspired to grab one and drink it!

    Thanks for your post Christopher.

    • Christopher says:

      Gina, Oh, my. That wheelchair basketball spot gets me every time. Beer is such an industry driven by camaraderie – what a perfect spot. Makes me want to go hug my best friend. Thanks for commenting on my post!

  5. Darling says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I was so sad when I heard about the retirement of the Clydesdales! In fact, I thought to myself, what is Budweiser thinking? Have they gone mad? LOL. I guess I’m a little hesitant about change and usually stick to the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” way of life but I guess sometimes it really is time for a change especially when you’re getting a little tired and old. So far I have always liked Budweiser’s commercials so I’m excited to see what they come up with next. Unfortunately, I don’t have cable so I have no idea what is going on in commercial land and can’t add to your list. However, I look forward to coming back to see what others come up with.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Liza Vee says:

    Christopher – I love the Clydesdales. They’ll be pulled back out in a few years — ‘mascots’ like that and their usage tends to go in trends. Budweiser also had the “Wazzzup?!” commercials.

    The Pink Energizer Bunny is an ad campaign that has lasted for decades.
    The Most Interesting Man in the World is another one.

  7. Graham says:

    Hi Chris, Geiko has been a strong solid campaign producer. Remember the caveman and the Gecko? They’ve consistently been able to connect with young audiences with different campaigns. Apple has also done a great job rolling out different campaigns. The shadow dancer campaign for me was one of my favorites.

    Excellent topic, thanks for sharing!