Dreychan called me when I was on the train today and we got to talking about the Superbowl commercials (I tend to look at these more carefully than the average Joe, this goes back to an old Marketing class I took for an MBA a while back). It’s interested to try to figure out the message, the target audience, and the success of the ad.
Anyhow, Drey mentioned she had been watching some talking head show this morning while she was getting ready to go teach (she plans on showing Superbowl ads in class today, herself!). Hal Sparks (Queer as Folk, Talk Soup) was on with some other gushing talking heads and they were discussing Superbowl commercials. The talking heads all liked the “Clydesdale American Dream” commercial (agency: DDB) where A Clydesdale getting some uncredited help from its parents– he puts his little horsey neck in the giant wagon yoke and ends up pulling the giant beer wagon (then we see two older Clydesdales, possibly parents, pushing the wagon slowly behind him.. cut to an old guy with a dalmation saying “I won’t tell if you won’t”).
Sparks pointed out that the commercial was “obviously about promoting underaged drinking” and implied we might want to be a little more morally outraged about it in an era when we’re letting things like the GoDaddy.com commercial pass by with a minimal chest thumping.
The more I think on it, the more I think Sparks is spot on about this ad. The colt represents youth (teenagers? younger?) and “yoking himself to the beer wagon” obviously is a thing he wants to do for acceptance and to be like grownups. The adults “pushing him into it” sure seems obvious in retrospect. Hell, even the old man saying “I won’t tell if you don’t” resonates with memories of adult relatives giving us a sip of their drinks at parties. I’m chiding myself for getting carried away with the cheap sentimentality of the piece (which is exactly what DDB wanted) and not seeing the underlying message.
Very clever, Mister Sparks. And shame on you, Anheuser Busch. You’ve truly recreated the live-action beer-pimping version of Joe Camel.
For more on the commercial, go to the Aneheuser Bush BUDWEISER “BUD BOWL” MEDIA SITE.