World’s best ads ever #81: comedy and nostalgia line up in Budweiser’s ‘Football’
We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.
A herd of unbridled Clydesdale horses playing football, in the lee of a majestic mountain range, while two cowboys look on and sip from bottles of Budweiser. Name something more comically Americana than that — we’ll wait. In this iconic 1996 Super Bowl commercial, Budweiser clearly sought to position itself as a brand that was synonymous with the game of football as well as the rugged, independent cowboy lifestyle that this ad — and many other Bud ads before and since — have romanticized.
The Budweiser Clydesdales made their Super Bowl advertising debut in 1986, with an ad that equated their beauty with the beer brand’s meticulous craftsmanship: “For centuries, the Clydesdale has been known as a special breed,” the narrator in that commercial says. “Today, the Clydesdale [symbolizes] Budweiser’s dedication to quality, superior ingredients, exclusive beechwood aging, and a distinctively clean, crisp taste that only Budweiser can offer.” All the while, exuberant orchestral music plays in the background.
The brand’s 1991 Super Bowl ad, to cite another example, shows the Clydesdales running in slow-motion through a snowy field. However, the 1996 ad in many ways seemed to take the brand’s creative marketing to a whole new level. It wasn’t just a nostalgic, teary-eyed anthem to the beauty of Clydesdales and a bygone era of the American frontier — it had a touch of the surreal, with anthropomorphized horses going hoof-to-hoof for a game of football.
The legacy of that creative decision to imbue the Clydesdales with a touch of supernatural ability arguably endures in the brand’s Super Bowl advertising strategy to this day. In the most recent Super Bowl, Budweiser aired an ad in which an injured Clydesdale, against all odds, seems to will itself back to a state of superb health. The same could be said about the brand’s 2015 Super Bowl ad, in which a team of Clydesdales escape from a barn to defend a helpless and adorable puppy from the slavering jaws of a wolf.