Budweiser’s new Super Bowl ad has a cute dog, majestic Clydesdales—but no heart

 

By Jeff Beer

All the ingredients are here. The major brand with an unprecedented big game pedigree, bringing back familiar characters like a really cute dog, and its iconic Clydesdales.

In Budweiser’s “Old School Delivery,” created with agency FCB New York, we find out that bad weather has shut down the highways, blocking crucial deliveries to a charming rural bar that’s running low on Bud. The bar’s resident pup knows something’s wrong because dogs can sense fear (of running out of beer).

Meanwhile, the Budweiser delivery guys come up with a solution: Hitch up the horses for an old-school delivery. Yeeehaw!

A quick but somewhat treacherous trip, to the tune of “The Weight” by The Band, stops abruptly when the fog sets in. Until the dog guides them through it. I mean, it’s enough to melt your two-beer-buzzed heart.

Or at least it should be. But there’s something a bit . . . off.

Over the years, Budweiser has charmed Super Bowl viewers with various combinations of cute puppies or dogs and the Clydesdales.

You’ve got 2004’s classic “Born a Donkey,” in which an unlikely candidate for the horse team emerges. In 2007, “Spot” was about a cute stray dog that found a way to pose as the Clydesdale team’s dalmatian. The next year, it was a magic combo of dalmatian, Clydesdale, and a Rocky-themed training montage. Bud landed at the top of USA Today‘s Super Bowl Ad Meter in 2015 with “Lost Dog,” which is as adorable and emotionally manipulative as its title suggests.

 

This year’s ad—and especially the 30-second version that will run during the game—feels like it rushes through the story, and therefore is unable to tap into the emotions like previous spots with similar elements.

The reason may be that the focus of “Old School Delivery” is ultimately on the humans—the delivery guys, the people in the bar—instead of the dog and horses. All of Bud’s best ads featuring these same characters, in one way or another, attaches its emotional journey to the animals.

“Brotherhood” in 2013 may be the lone exception, showing the bond between a Clydesdale and its trainer, but that has a tight focus on these two characters with the emotional payoff still coming from the horse.

By making the 2024 ad all about the humans, this Super Bowl ad is still pretty good (and looks amazing), but compared to Bud’s best, it tastes a bit flat.

Fast Company – co-design

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