Some years I watch the Superbowl; some years I don’t, but I usually catch the commercials. It was an off year for me, but I “heard” about the Budweiser commercial “Brotherhood” from seeing tweets about it and how choked up people got by it. So I had to watch.
It’s a beer commercial. It’s wrapped up in a narrative that’s supposed to tug at your heart, but it’s a beer commercial. But kudos to the ad agency that produced it because it is an excellent piece of propaganda. From choosing Stevie Nicks’ Landslide as the background song to the whole premise of the narrative, it is well done.
The music — more precisely, the lyrics — set the tone for the story. The horse is a “child” who is growing and changing. The man is “afraid of change” but their separation is just as natural as when a child goes off to college or gets married. Their bond — the brotherhood — can withstand these life changes.
Watching the commercial unfold, you are supposed to think that the horse has free will. He certainly exhibits a level of freedom when he runs after the man at the end of the story and that “fact” in return colors the images we’ve just seen. It was the horse’s choice to leave — that’s what we’re supposed to think. It was a natural response to growth, his leaving in the first place. When he’s racing the pickup truck, he’s testing his strength and his boundaries. It’s because the man loves him that he “allows” the horse to leave and fulfill his destiny as a Budweiser Clydesdale.
That’s what you’re supposed to think and feel watching the commercial.
If we view it through the lens of animal rights, however, we see a different story and we receive a different message than what Budweiser and Madison Avenue wanted. Seen in this way, it’s a story of a man who sells his friend into slavery and then regrets it. The friend forgives him, and the man receives redemption.
That’s reason to get choked up right there: we all might receive forgiveness for our mistakes.