21 Mar The Unforgettable Power of Story
For those of us out there who still question the impact of story in a brand context, I want to draw your attention to a clip almost universally acknowledged at one of the most effective ads of all time. It aired only once. During the 2002 Super Bowl broadcast.
As effective as it is, it didn’t come through unscathed by criticism. But what it does so incredibly well is illustrate the pain and empathy of a nation mourning the effects of an unimaginable attack.
It communicates the depth of feeling for a specific population center by people hundreds and thousands of miles away. People who may have family or friends in and around New York, but maybe not.
The feeling was just as strong in people who had never and may never visit New York. The expression of love, sympathy and empathy, while not exactly surprising, was familiar and welcome.
The Budweiser Clydesdales are perhaps the singular most recognizable brand image in history. In their full-dress tack, trotting out of their bright red barn, we always know they’re bound for someplace and something special.
The ad aired only once because of sensitivity over the appearance of profiting on the events of September 11th, 2001. But the image of these enormous and powerful working horses traveling miles across America into the city and across the Brooklyn Bridge, finally bowing toward the skyline of lower Manhattan almost genuflecting in prayer, took our collective breath away.
For my money, rather than bright red center stage, I would have used a pale gray Bud logo in the lower right corner of the screen under the “We’ll never forget” at the end, but who wants to quibble over image on this one?
If you ever find yourself questioning the power of a strong story, take a moment out to look at this one again.