We were maybe 5 seconds into the Budweiser Clydesdale spot on Sunday when the sobs started. “I love this ad so much,” my wife snuffled as the colt with the fluffy ankle hair gamboled in the field.
It took me another 45 seconds, but I too was all ferklempt by the end of the spot. And so, by most reports, was the rest of America.
What does this teach us?
People like stories. People like heart-warming emotion. People like traditions and symbols of authenticity. Always have. Always will.
And advertising agencies and marketing experts will always underestimate the degree to which these things matter. They want edge, they want snark, they want surprise. Ad people (me included) loved the Samsung Seth Rogan/Paul Rudd spot with its knowing references and cutting repartee. My wife looked at it with a McKayla-is-not-impressed expression. “Makes me anxious” was her verdict.
Some critics slagged the Clydesdale spot for being “manipulative.” Well, that’s a laugh. Advertising is supposed to manipulate you. It’s supposed to disarm your defenses, color your perceptions and guide your hand down to your wallet. Some ads manipulate with sex. Some do it with flattery. Some even do it with facts. This ad does it with an inter-species bromance but the plot line was already familiar by Homer’s time: love gained, love lost, love regained.
Works every time. You people working on that other Bud brand, Black Label, might want to keep that in mind next time around.