A lone commercial that aired just once continues to echo through the years, serving as an emotional tribute to a nation’s tragedy, told through the journey of iconic horses across a snow-blanketed landscape and into the heart of a city reborn from ashes.
In the heart of national grief, a Budweiser advertisement breathed life into remembrance, stirring profound emotions with a singular airing that continues to reverberate through the years. This memorable piece, featuring Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdales, was crafted with such heartrending elegance that it left a lasting imprint on viewers. In the poignant narrative of the ad, these magnificent horses are seen frolicking in a snow-covered field before being hitched to a wagon, ready to embark on a journey watched by captivated bystanders.
Departing from the countryside, the Clydesdales traverse an iconic landmark – the Brooklyn Bridge – transitioning into an urban landscape. Their destination? The city that never sleeps, New York City, pausing with the city’s skyline stretching out behind them.
Subtly, the camera focuses on the nobility reflected in the Clydesdale’s eyes, the spirit of resilience. As the frame expands, Lady Liberty comes into view, beyond the Clydesdales. The music builds, reaching a crescendo as the horses bow, a gesture of deep respect before the screen fades to black.
First aired during Super Bowl XXXVI on February 3, 2002, this singular yet evocative commercial lives on in the digital age, resurfacing yearly, online, to honor the memory of the 9/11 anniversary.
The creative team at Anheuser-Busch, tasked with shaping this tribute, faced the responsibility of securing permissions from Congressional members, the advertising fraternity, and New York’s Mayor, Rudy Guiliani.
Bob Lachky, the former Executive Vice President of Anheuser-Busch Global Creative, relayed to Fox 2 Now the incredible experience of the filming process. “We filmed in New York City. We had a helicopter going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Mayor Giuliani let us into the city — the only film company of any sort right after 9-11. To actually come into air space with our helicopter to film the Clydesdales…the hitch coming into Battery Park and it was amazing…just amazing.”
On September 11, 2011, an updated version of the ad was broadcast to mark the tenth anniversary of the attacks.
The original commercial, available on YouTube, still triggers powerful responses from viewers. Many expressed their raw emotions: “They really should air this EVERY 9/11 without editing a single thing!,” “Still brings tears to my eyes,” and “We must NEVER forget! How touching. I’m sitting here crying at my desk right now.”
Some even shared personal accounts of that devastating day. One user reflected: “I still can’t get past it. I lost so many friends that terrible day. It stays with me like a sickness…each year come August, it starts to creep into my consciousness…and doesn’t leave until a week after the day. Thank you Budweiser for this moving tribute… Please everyone, take a moment, remember those lost, and those fallen from the FDNY/NYPD who so bravely faced certain death, to try and save others.”
A viewer who had been present during the filming shared their account, recalling the profound emotions it stirred. “I was there when the final scenes were filmed. Not a dry eye in the bunch of us. Some of us, who lost friends and/or loved ones were so blown away by the tribute that one gent began having difficulty breathing. He was better after a little O2 and later a Bud light.”
This heartwarming tribute serves as a poignant reminder of the collective resilience and shared sorrow that defines the human spirit in times of adversity.
WATCH the video below: