Ad Analysis – Budweiser “Friends are Waiting”

By Hilary Cochran

In 1875 Budweiser began brewing and Budweiser Lager Beer soon after became America’s first national brand beer. Budweiser’s icon, Clydesdales, made their first appearance in April of 1933. Clydesdales have since been the symbol of Budweiser beer: “the Clydesdales are more than the symbol of Budweiser beer; they are the living embodiment of America’s great industrial spirit.” However, recently a yellow Labrador puppy stole the Clydesdale’s spotlight. The duo now shares the screen in their most recent ads.

Budweiser has consistently created buzzed about commercials over the past couple years. The commercials pull at the heartstrings of their viewers with the use of Budweiser’s Clydesdales and yellow Labradors. In the ad they released this past September, “Friends are Waiting,” they are promoting the message to drink responsibly and not drive under the influence. Following their enormous success in the Super Bowl 2014 ad, “Puppy Love,” Budweiser echoed similar sentiments by bringing back the use of yellow labs as they looked to capture the same amount of eyes they had previously.

In the commercial, we are shown the relationship between a man and his dog: how they have grown together and how they became best friends. They do everything together. But, one night, the owner leaves for a party with his friends and his dog is left behind waiting for his owner’s return. The dog waits and waits. It’s all he can do. We see him looking out the window worried, playing alone with his chew toy, lonely and longing. Car lights scan across the house and he looks up hoping it’s his owner. It’s not. Dogs only understand presence. They cannot comprehend where their owner goes and if they’ll be back or not. All they can do is wait and hope that the person that their whole life depends on will walk through that front door again. The ad takes us viewers through that emotional rollercoaster of not knowing. We understand the suspense and helplessness felt as the clock ticks forward and there’s still no sight of your best friend. As the words, “For some, the waiting never ended,” roll across the screen in our anxious anticipation, a chill runs down your spine. Our eyes digest the words, “But we can change that.” We need to. This is a feeling you’d wish upon nobody else. Suddenly, the door swings open and the sun is shining the next morning. The dog perks up and greets his owner lovingly as he explains, “Hey, I’m sorry. I decided I shouldn’t drive home last night. I stayed at Dave’s.” The joy is overwhelming. The relief is flooding. He’s so happy and so are we.

The marketing approach Budweiser uses masterfully appeals to both genders, male and female. At first glance, one might believe that this ad is targeted towards men as it depicts the classic “man’s best friend” situation, but there are actually female undertones incorporated with the highly emotional storyline. It keeps everyone on the edge of his or her seat and emotionally invested. Everyone is an emotional buyer. We buy things cause they make us feel a certain way or they’ll help us get to where or who we want to be and later see it as a logical decision. Budweiser’s commercial was purely about stimulating an emotional response from its viewers for that reason. The psychological appeal is clear – it’s an emotional rollercoaster that anyone can connect to, especially people with pets. In the decision to drive home or stay overnight one would rarely think of their pet. They are often forgotten, but they rely on you the most. An interested customer would also view the “Friends are Waiting” commercial to have a positive emotional action and will in turn view Budweiser as the better beer company because it is a responsible brand that cares for their customers. Therefore, this increases their appeal and leads people to spread the word. This ad has reached over 22 million views on YouTube alone.

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