Semiotics/Creative Revolution – “A Hero’s Welcome” Budweiser Commercial

 

During this year’s superbowl, I found the Budweiser ad, “A Hero’s Welcome,” to be exceptionally interesting.  I was not impressed by the overall quality and messages of the commercials that I watched, but this was drew my attention.  Budweiser is a beer that appeals to Americans.  For years, they have been one of the leading brands, and currently comprise almost 50% of the market share among beers sold in America today.  However, their success cannot only be tied to its reputable history, but must also be attributed to the brand’s advertising.  Budweiser took into account the current political and social standpoints of the American people, and tried to appeal through an emotional commercial.

“A Hero’s Welcome” has many signs and signifiers that allow the view to infer many different meanings from its overall message.  At the very beginning of the clip, Lt. Nadd runs into a woman’s arms and hugs her closely.  This gesture signifies that the woman and the soldier are in a relationship, and clearly have not seen each other in a very long time due to the text at the beginning of the clip. The couple proceeds to drive into a huge parade, organized by the entire neighborhood.  From a denotative perspective, we see tons of people cheering with posters, men and women smiling, and people who seemingly hold positions of authority within the town applauding as the couple moves through the crowd.  The connotative meaning implies that for the most part, the whole town has come to this event to support Lt. Nadd.  It seems as if almost everyone has some sort of connection to him and his family. Towards the end of the crowd of people, there is one sign which is an older woman waving and crying frantically at the soldier as he passes by in his caravan. Lt. Nadd immediately runs to her and they share a warm embrace. This signifies that this woman is his mother, and she is finally reconnected with her son after being separated while he was at war. Through this emotional connection, people feel connected to the army and the war even if they don’t know soldiers personally.  This gives way to many emotions among viewers and people at the actual parade.  Feelings of fear and terror are replaced with relief and excitement upon Lt. Nadd’s return.

This commercial is intense.  By profiling a real soldier returning home from Iraq to his girlfriend and mother in the United States, audiences across the country and the world are able to connect.  This commercial is relatable on every level.  There are many ways in which people can be cynical of advertisements and the way in which products choose to sell their brand.  Many beer ads try to be “cool,” and use their commercials as a way of convincing viewers that drinking certain beers will attract women, make you appear wealthy, or give off a more “manly” vibe.  Cynical viewers will resonate with the message this commercial is giving because the values portrayed in this ad tend to match with most Americans. This ad does a really great job of appealing to those who question commodification because Budweiser is selling the story of Lt. Nadd rather than the Budweiser beer itself.  The brand image of Budweiser is briefly shown at the end of the commercial

I warn you against believing that advertising is a science,” is a quote from famous creative director Bill Bernbach, who is credited with the advent of the Creative Revolution in the 1960s.  Bernbach stressed the importance of advertising as an art rather than a science. He means that advertisements are not created with a static formula. Successful ads need to be innovative and break boundaries of past campaigns, and need to be designed through a creative brainstorming process.  This Budweiser ad is an example of a commercial that woul not have been creative prior to the Creative Revolution. At the end of the clip, Budweiser introduces the hashtag #Salute a hero.  This allows people to be interactive with this campaign through various forms of social media and share their own stories involving their heros, which may include soldiers and Budweiser. Not only does the commercial have an emotional appeal and includes background music and pop culture references, but it also features more than just a product.  Prior to the Creative Revolution, ads featured an image and text describing the product and its functions.  This commercial is the total opposite.

Goldman & Papson are two theorists that wrote about the concepts of cultural cannibalism and the way in which ads are ideological. One of the methods they discuss is that advertising can disguise and suppress inequalities, injustices, irrationalities, and contradictions.  In my opinion, this ad does exactly that. While this commercial portrays the happiness and relief of Lt. Nadd’s hometown and family, they ignore the fact that many people do not survive the war and receive such a warm homecoming welcome.  Additionally, they promote the idea that this soldier is in a heterosexual relationship with a woman, while many soldiers may be gay.  They try to appeal to the socio-cultural ideal of the All-American man, but this does not include sectors of American that could not afford to throw a homecoming parade with horses and music, etc.  Many things are not mentioned, and this promotes the “normative vision” that Goldman & Papson explain.  The life that this soldier lives is much different then most, however.

This advertisement embodies many aspects of the Creative Revolution. The commercial has many signs and signifiers that help us as viewers to understand the meanings in many ways. We are able to understand the ad because of the social and cultural context, and the way in which it appeals to Americans and general feelings about the army and soldiers.

 

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