We love your Super Bowl commercials and we wouldn’t change a thing. Well, ok, none of us would drive off without checking that all the doors of the horse trailer were shut and locked, but we understand that that detail was needed for the storyline.
We’re sure that you are already thinking about next year’s Super Bowl commercial so we thought we’d send an idea your way.
First of all, the puppy is cute but in the last two commercials the Clydesdales have come to his rescue.
Isn’t it time to turn things around? Can the puppy be the hero next year instead of the mischief-maker?
Here’s the idea:
Time has passed on the ranch. The puppy is now a handsome young dog. Is that a streak of gray in Don Jeanes’ beard? They’re hanging around the barn one day when Don’s mobile rings. He answers and we see his brow furrow. “No,” he says. “He went to a farm upstate. He’s been turned out for a couple of years.”
He shakes his head in disbelief and clicks the phone off, stunned.
Don whistles to the pup and they jump into the truck, which is hitched to the same aluminum stock trailer. Off they go.
They pull into a rundown old showground and park near a big indoor arena. The sign at the gate says “Horse Auction Tonight”.
As Don and the dog walk down long aisles of high walled pens, Don peers between the slats to look at horses standing, blinking back at him. He walks with his hands in his pockets, shoulders slumped. The lighting is dim. Are some horses just shadows? Each horse has a number spray-painted on its hip. They don’t seem to be afraid or agitated, just slightly bewildered, and strangely quiet.
No one else is around.
There are ponies and paints and appaloosas and donkeys and mules. Racehorses, show horses, and one even with a braided mane and tail. They flash by quickly.
The dog trots ahead. He stops at one pen and whines. He paws the ground, backs up and then pushes his nose between the slats and sniffs.
Suddenly a giant head comes down over the slats. The slats crack and break with a splintering sound beneath his thin neck. His nose reaches out and down for the dog. His burr-filled mane falls forward. For a second, they are nose to nose. Through the slats, the camera can see the shadow of his gaunt body.
Don Jeanes says, “Hey, go on, get away, Bud,” pushing the dog. “You’re going to get bit!” The dog whines. Don keeps walking. The dog whines again. He doesn’t follow Don.
“Come on,” Don says again, but the dog isn’t coming. Impatiently, Don walks back to him. He finally looks again at the scarecrow, hollow-eyed horse.
“No.” His jaw drops. “It can’t be.”
A polite nicker answers him.
“Abe!” His voice cracks as he reaches up and hugs the bony head hanging down over him.
The dog dances and chases his tail.
Cut to the barn at home. Don is leading the ragged Clydesdale off the trailer and into a pen outside the barn. The geldings from the barn are in the paddock nearby and they hang their heads over the fence, whinnying in approval, tossing their manes, and stomping their feet.
Don appears from the barn with a hay bag and a feed bucket. The dog is close behind, trotting proudly with a currycomb in his mouth and his tail held high. The vet’s truck pulls up in the driveway, and a stethoscope is placed over the gelding’s heart as the camera pulls back to take in the whole scene. Don and the dog and geldings all watch their old friend get some much-needed medical attention.
Don says quietly, “Welcome home.”
A graphic screen comes up showing a sample grid of rescued and rescue-able Clydesdales from across the USA; headline type says “The Budweiser Clydesdales encourage responsible horse ownership. Before you breed or buy a foal, look into horses available for adoption. On most days, as many as 100 purebred Clydesdale horses of all ages are available for adoption or in need of rehabilitation support donations in the USA.”
For a longer version of the ad, the gelding could be shown as he is officially retired from the hitch and is either happily sold or re-homed to a farm. Don and the puppy say a tearful farewell. The phone call Don receives informs him that a former Budweiser horse matching their beloved friend’s description has ended up at the end of the line, in an auction where most of the horses are surely bound for slaughter. (Showing the horse in the auction ring might be too emotional for television audiences.)
Budweiser currently publicizes a “responsible drinking” campaign, and even has a commercial with the Clydesdales picking up patrons at a Boston bar at closing time and giving them a ride home.
Shouldn’t the company support the Clydesdales–and all horses–by publicizing the need for responsible horse ownership?
Budweiser does not make it known how or if it provides aftercare for its hitch geldings and breeding stock; many privately-owned Clydesdales around the country are rumored to be “former Budweiser horses” but, in most cases, there is no brand or way to prove former ownership.
Encouraging people to adopt available horses from rescue organizations or to fund horses living in sanctuaries is an excellent way for Budweiser to show concern for the Clydesdale breed, which enjoys much of its popularity because of the appeal of the Budweiser horses and their commercials.
Take Bentley, for instance. He’s as handsome as any Budweiser Clydesdale, but he’s spent most of the last several years at Helping Hearts Equine Rescue in New Jersey. He arrived in tough shape, was rehabilitated and adopted by a new owner who simply couldn’t keep up with the feed needs of a giant Clydesdale. He ended up back at the shelter, but health problems, including an auto-immune disorder known as pemphigus, disrupted his life.
Today, Bentley is a well-known permanent resident at Helping Hearts, where his medical and nutritional needs are met.
Is it partly the image of the Budweiser Clydesdales in the back of people’s minds that makes such a strong connection? Many people dream of owning one of their own. And they can, by helping to support a rehab horse like Bentley with a month donation.
There’s no doubt about it, the Budweiser Clydesdales have a great life. But if the public thinks that all horses are that lucky, they’re in for a big surprise.
Horses who would break out of a barn to save a puppy from a wolf would surely go to bat for their less fortunate cousins and brothers and sisters out there in the auctions and rescues.
So would the people who love the Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl commercials, if they only knew.
To learn more:
Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue (Stacey Golub, DVM)
Bentley’s page on the Helping Hearts Equine Rescue website