Hank The Clydesdale
(Budweiser Super Bowl Ad 2008)

The above Budweiser Ad for the 2008 US Super Bowl features Hank The Clydesdale as an equine-underdog who fights his way to the top through determination, hard work and perseverance… as well as the belief and dedication of his Dalmation trainer.

So what is it about Hank the Clydesdale, and all of the preceding Clydesdale commercials (which we will be featuring on the blog over the next few weeks), that put them at the top of the pack? And, what lessons can you apply to your own marketing, whatever the size of your budget?

Newt Barret writes for Content Marketing Today that there are 5 marketing lessons to be learned from this Hank The Clydesdale Super Bowl Ad :

The ad tells a compelling story that we can easily follow from beginning to end. It’s the story of an underdog–or under-horse–Hank, the Clydesdale, who barely misses making the team of Clydesdales who will be pulling the Budweiser wagon. The commercial is set against the theme from Rocky as Hank works for an entire year to do whatever it takes to make the team. Sure enough, just like Rocky, he’s a winner in the end. We all love those kind of success stories.

The ad is highly visual with a series of images that flow logically from start to finish. In fact, the images are so good that there is virtually no dialogue through the entire commercial. The only words spoken are: “Maybe next year Hank” at the very beginning and “Welcome aboard, Hank, ” when our equine hero finally makes the team.

Hank’s story is full of memorable moments that build on one another to create an indelible impression. I’m guessing that you would be able to tell this story in detail a year from now. One such moment is Hank and his Dalmatian buddy high-fiving it after Hank makes the team. On the other hand, in the next 12 months, you probably will have forgotten most of the other Super Bowl ads, including those from Budweiser.

Hank’s story is the classic tale of the underdog who manages to achieve victory through hard work and dedication. It’s essentially the animal version of the American dream. If you work hard enough and long enough, you can accomplish almost anything. Even if there’s an element of myth to it, we all cherish the ideal. That’s why we love celebrating Hank’s triumph.

Lovable four-legged characters, Hank and his unnamed Dalmatian pal dominate the story. They make us care about the outcome, knowing in our hearts that Hank is going to make the team. We care about them. We care about their struggle. We care about their success. And, in the end, we also care about Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser beer.

You don’t necessarily need a big budget to tell a great story that your customers will remember.