Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” Historical Analysis

This heartwarming Budweiser commercial features a sweet best friend relationship between a puppy and a horse, and neither will let anything get in the way of them being together.  When the puppy got adopted, the horse chased down the car until the puppy was finally returned to the farm and the friends could be together again.  I find this advertisement to be a very successful use of therapeutic ethos; TJ Jackson Lears’ idea about thinking of advertisers and the goods they are advertising as therapists.  This concept promotes concept that what a consumer buys can offer him a sense of security and can fix what is lacking in him.  In my opinion this is a very therapeutic ad in its use of characters, narrative and music.  The characters sort of emulate a consumer’s relationship with someone and play on already circulating narratives about friendship, fostering new and different relationships and even love.  This implies that Budweiser will make these connections happen, which is what drives consumers to purchase it and offer a sense of security that they are purchasing the right beverage.  The ad also uses a new song that is familiar to most people and that also places confidence in the consumer and is somewhat therapeutic.  This advertisement is about the narrative and the characters’ relationship more than it is about beer, which is what makes the ad so successful and promoting the product successful.

“Persons who share a set of tastes and complementary values” in a consumer culture are regarded as having a similar lifestyle (90).  Consumer goods allowed people to worry less about their class affiliation and position in the social hierarchy, and more about style affiliation, which eventually is what creates a lifestyle.  The consumer culture strengthened during the 1920s and was stabilized by the 1960s.  By this decade people more interested in a cultural display rather than a display of economic wealth.  In traditional cultures, lifestyle was more about group processes rather than an individuals “style of life” (303).  This ad connects a consumer and his lifestyle with a product because ads essentially are all about finding products to fit in with one’s current lifestyle.  Budweiser beer is certainly able to fit into many consumers’ lifestyles, and it may also create new lifestyles for some consumers just after watching this particular advertisement.

This commercial is also a good example of a “cultural intermediary” in that Budweiser may be the intermediary between two people and create this community.  People relate to others who drink the same beer, and this may foster a similar relationship to that of the puppy and the horse in the advertisement.  Meaning comes largely from advertising, and there is a lot of meaning in this one through the characters and the narrative.  Advertising is the unifying force between BOTH people and goods, and people and people because of a good.

I think this advertisement utilizes the transformational function because it is abstract while advertisers try to change the attitude of the consumer towards the brand, lifestyle and social success.  This idea of paying more attention to the consumer rather than to the product was stressed during the interwar period.  This ad is very much a story about relationships and friendship, and Budweiser so happens to be in the picture.  People will remember the story more than they remember the beer bottle at the very end.   This also relates to dematerialization because it is more concerned about how the message is conveyed rather than the function of the good.  This advertisement is about the product in context and the owners of the animals experiencing the good, rather than simply promoting that product.  Consumers seeing the product in action and in a context that could be their own is much more relatable and enticing.

Lastly, the Budweiser ad is very much a part of modern society advertisements in the use of brands and trademarks.  A well-known brand such as Budweiser helps establish trust and tells consumers who makes a product (product identification).  Consumers rely on advertisements to tell them about a product because they don’t know the people making it (as in traditional societies) and put it in a context that they can see themselves in.  Knowing whom the consumer and what the brand is also communicates who the consumer is supposed to be with this product.  The adults in this advertisement very much show who consumers should be with the product and that is social, loving, responsive and simply light-hearted.  The animals show the bond and how Budweiser can bring the most unlikely people together.  Another modern technique is humanizing the corporation that is otherwise faceless, which goes along with the idea of context and building trust between consumers and brands.

-Alexis

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