It premiered during the Super Bowl and now a shorter version airs all the time. The shorter version is much better because it gives us less time to become emotionally invested in this human-horse drama, thus highlighting the sheer ridiculousness of its premise.
The commercial begins with a guy raising a horse from birth. Typical horse guy, wears a baseball cap, real blue collar, salt-of-the-earth, pays his taxes … let’s call him Fred.
Fred teaches the horse how to be a horse. How to eat, run, neigh, all that stuff. (Fred teaches the horse how to run by driving his pickup truck—a Ford F-150 in an ideal cross-promotion universe—alongside a white picket fence while the horse tries to chase him.) We don’t see the parts where Fred teaches the horse how to farm his land by having it trudge through fields lugging heavy equipment and supplies, but commercials can only be so long, you know?
Anyway, it’s obvious Fred loves the horse because he pets the horse lovingly. Also maybe he sleeps next to the horse? There is one scene in the long version where Fred has fallen asleep in the hay of the stable and the horse has to nudge him awake, like, “Wake up, Fred! It’s time for me to chase your Ford-F150 crew cab with optional four-wheel drive!” Fred is like, “Oh golly gee-willickers, what time is it? Did I fall asleep in the horse stable again? That is so blue collar and not weird of me. Budweiser.”
But then the sad part happens. Turns out the horse is a Clydesdale and this whole time Fred was training it to be a famous Budweiser Clydesdale. Well, guess what, Fred? The Budweiser trailer is here to pick up your dang horse. RECKONING TIME HAS ARRIVED.
Now Fred is all sad. He has nothing to do now because his only job was to raise this horse and he doesn’t even have WiFi. He spends his days thinking things like, “What do Clydesdales even have to do with alcohol? Has this bizarre marketing campaign gone far enough when Anheuser-Busch is stealing my horse in broad daylight?”
Then one day Fred sits at his kitchen table and opens the newspaper, which reveals the headline, “BUDWESIER CLYDESDALES COMING TO CHICAGO FOR SOME PARADE OR SOMETHING.” I’m sure not a lot of stuff happens in or near Chicago, and when a team (herd? school? pack?) or horses trots into town, it is major headline news. Also, there is a perfectly placed bottle of Budweiser sitting on the table next to Fred. Considering most people read the paper with breakfast, it’s safe to assume Fred is an alcoholic.
Fred hops in his Ford F-150 Super Duty with tilt wheel steering and heads to Chicago. Then he goes to a horse parade by himself. Sure enough, there’s the horse Fred raised, leading the way and being all like, “I’m a big city horse now, can’t touch this!”
Fred is happy he saw the horse, but also kind of sad. But before he can drive away, he sees the horse running to him dramatically through the strangely unoccupied streets of Chicago. Fred hops out of his Ford F-350 Heavy Duty with TorqShift and runs to his horse friend, at which point they meet in the middle of the street and touch foreheads affectionately.
The end, buy Budweiser. I’ve heard more than one person say that this commercial makes them cry, and I hear ya’ sista. We’ve all been there—the horse we raised from birth grows up to be a participant in a nonsensically ongoing ad campaign for alcohol. But you know what they say, if you love something (a horse), you have to set it free. It’s tough for sure, but there is hope. Just remember: buy Budweiser.
Note: This column appears in the 8/1 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/2 issue of the Peoria Times.