This video embodies all that is wrong with Old Advertising:
It’s a genuinely touching piece of visual storytelling. It shamelessly checks every box:
- Story of separation and longing – check.
- Set in a pure sunlit rural locale – check.
- Background characters are handsome/beautiful, all-American – check.
- Soundtrack is a recently popular bittersweet lovesick ballad – check.
- Main character is a cute widdle puppy – check.
- There are horses – check.
The result is an emotional cruise missile targeted directly at your capacity for pathos. The ad does that extremely well.
Let me be clear. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to emotion. This ad fails because it’s a mis-match between the emotion elicited and the brand doing the eliciting.
Budweiser isn’t about pathos. It’s about having a good time with friends (responsibly!). Where does my unfulfilled longing to be with the one I love fit in with the Budweiser story? It doesn’t. Or rather, if I’m mixing Budweiser with unfulfilled longing, I’m in for a night I’m going to regret.
This ad assumes that I’m stupid enough, as a viewer, to associate Budweiser with puppy love even though by emotional logic and conscious brand positioning they have nothing to do with each other.
We know you’re trying to sell us stuff. It’s cool to acknowledge that now. We’ve become smarter, as a public, in recent years. That’s why successful advertising these days is more self-aware, and plays with it. No need to try and clothe your advertising in supposedly innocent narrative.