Thursday, January 15, 2015

Budweiser Clydesdales "Lost Dog" Super Bowl Commercial: Stock Up on Beer and Tissues

Start your shopping list now. Whether host or guest at an annual Super Bowl party, you must be prepared with the universal classics your friends know and love: Nachos. Beer. Chicken wings. Chili. Maybe some more beer. That great dip that you spilled on the couch last year. (Oops!)

And don't forget to pick up a big box of tissues.

Tissues? You're going need them. And not to mop up the spilled dip. You've read this spoiler, it's too late: once the Budweiser Clydesdales' "Lost Dog" Super Bowl commercial hits the screen, there won't be a dry eye in the Man Cave.

Be prepared, friends, for the third commercial in the Budweiser Clydesdales' trilogy of warm and fuzzy heartwarming story-ads starring terrific Texas-born actor Don Jeanes, who spent the first two ads looking slightly confused at the way that the animals around him ran away with his life.

We all feel that way, Don. Just go with it.

Don began in 2013 with the epic (and actual) birth of a foal and his reunion with it years later when their paths cross at a parade the Budweiser Clydesdales are in.

The then-grown gelding recognized his childhood friend (or his truck), of course, shook off his harness and handlers and cantered down a city street as the entire Hoof Blog nation shuddered, covered their eyes and moaned in unison, "Oh, no, he's going to wipe out!"

Tales of heavy horses wearing steel shoes while cantering on pavement often don't have happy endings.

The shoes in the "Brotherhood" ad of 2013 were fake, but the emotions seemed genuine.

Except he didn't wipe out, because his hooves were shod with very cleverly camouflaged hoof boots for traction, as we found out later in the #2 all-time reader favorite Hoof Blog article of recent years. The boots were custom-made by KC La Pierre, who tells great stories about his adventures, which included the use of spray paint on the set!

The commercial ended with a heartfelt bro love hug between Don and his horse.

Pass the tissue box, but in a good way. Maybe it was hearing that Fleetwood Mac song again after such a long time.

Click this link to watch "Brotherhood" on the Budweiser YouTube channel.

Fast-forward to 2014 and we wondered what Budweiser could do to top the actual birth of a foal on a commercial. They managed to do it by sending in the clown, the guaranteed scene-stealer, a golden retriever--or is a lab?--puppy.

To make "Puppy Love" even more relevant and emotional, the puppy was being dropped off at an adoption shelter, which happened to be next door to the Clydesdales' stable.

The errant puppy wasn't interested in hanging out at the shelter, he wanted to cheat death by dancing around in the barn aisle next door with some of the biggest hooves on the planet. And one big guy sort of liked having him around...enough to adopt him, after a dramatic rescue when someone else thought they'd take him home.

Both commercials covered a lot of story ground in a minute or so, and they did it well. "Puppy Love" was playing to the balcony by giving the puppy almost all the camera time. The horses were almost an afterthought.

But you can't argue with the numbers; the last time I checked, "Puppy Love" had been watched more than 54 million times on YouTube, making it one of the "top ten" videos of 2014.

This isn't the first time dogs overshadowed the horse in the ads, but the dogs have always been Dalmatians. This leads to a big question: Why has Budweiser abandoned the official dog breed of the hitch and of coaching?

Here's one of my favorite Budweiser commercials, date unknown. This one uses some nice storytelling elements to showcase two of the best-known "working dog" roles of the Dalmatian breed, as fire dogs and coaching dogs. The story unfolds beneath classic "big country" instrumental music, reminiscent of old tv westerns.

And here's another, this one was the Super Bowl commercial in 2007, complete with Frank Sinatra chiming in at the end:

Finally, we come to the piece de resistance, the most popular Super Bowl commercial of all time and the most popular Budweiser Clydesdale commercial of all time: "Hank". But where would Hank be without his Dalmatian coach? They share the screen perfectly, as equals.

So Budweiser is bringing back the golden-fluff puppy for 2015. But let's think what the "Lost Dog" story line might be: What could possibly happen at the ranch to make the perfect puppy run away? Why is he lost?

Perhaps the proud working-breed Dalmatian returned to the stable and caught the puppy eating his hoof trimmings during the farrier's visit.

Perhaps the puppy found out that tennis balls are not allowed on the ranch. What golden would stick around where there are no tennis balls?

Or maybe there's no water for him to take a swim. Goldens must swim, splash or wallow in something wet. Show-perfect Clydesdales? Not so much, at least not if the no-fun-for-you grooms have anything to say about it.

Chances are, he got lonely because the horses went off to do a parade without him. Or he went with them and someone accidentally closed up the van and left him behind.

What would your story line be? Send it to me, and I will post it for you, or leave your idea in the comments section below.

The game is 16 days away. We don't even know which football teams will be playing in the Super Bowl yet. But I think once that is determined, the biggest suspense will be over which ads America loves the most, which corporations take the biggest chances with their ads, and whether or not the Budweiser Clydesdales win the Triple Crown of Super Bowl ad scores by coming up with another great story for the third year in a row.

But let's hope that Budweiser knows that viewers are fully aware that cute puppies are placed in ads to get a reaction. They're bait. But so are big horses--especially America's favorite big horses.

Only Budweiser has been brave enough to position Clydesdales in the center of their ads all these years. And yet, last year, the puppy was in the lens much more than the horses.

Note to Budweiser: America wants the horses in the story, front and center. Count on it. Ever since the simple, elegant and unforgettable ad after the tragedy of 911, the Budweiser Clydesdales have been synonymous with something even larger than the Super Bowl. They are recognized as powerful messengers of core American themes and thoughts that they manage to embody and express most eloquently, just by being there.

Yes, you've seen it. Watch it again;where you were and how did you feel the first time you saw it? 

These horses don't need a puppy. They didn't last year,  they don't this year and they never will. But America needs them, now more than ever.

Thank you, Budweiser, for keeping the Clydesdales in the Super Bowl. We'll we watching.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a headlines-link email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  

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