The anniversary of September 11, 2001, is a date etched into the collective memory of the United States and the world. It is a day marked by solemn remembrance, sadness, and a deep sense of loss. Each year, as this fateful date approaches, the emotions surrounding it are palpable, and people across the country feel heavy hearts with the weight of the past. In the midst of this sadness, a poignant and heartbreaking ad resurfaces to serve as a powerful reminder of this tragic day.
The commercial, which has only aired once, is a Budweiser commercial featuring the iconic Clydesdale horses. These majestic animals have long been associated with Budweiser and are known for their strength, grace, and beauty. In this particular ad, the Clydesdales aren’t just brand symbols; they become symbols of hope, resilience, and unity in the face of unspeakable tragedy.
As the horses arrive in New York after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, the ad cuts to a cityscape with the Big Apple skyline in the background.
The camera pulls back as the Statue of Liberty is seen behind the majestic Clydesdales after a close-up of one of their faces. Before the scene fades, the music gets louder and the horses bow.
The poignant ad was shown only once, on February 3, 2002, during Super Bowl XXXVI, yet it is immortalized online and is rebroadcast every year on that tragic date.
To make the ad a reality, Anheuser-Busch’s creative team needed the support of congressmen, the advertising industry, and New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani.
We filmed in New York, Bob Lachky, former executive vice president of Anheuser-Busch Global Creative, told Fox 2 Now. A helicopter flew over the Brooklyn Bridge as we watched. The only movie theater of any kind in town right after 9-11, Mayor Giuliani let us in. It was incredible… absolutely amazing to actually enter the airspace with our helicopter and record the Clydesdales hitting Battery Park.
On September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attacks, an enhanced version of the ad aired.
The ad clearly struck a chord with those who commented on it on YouTube, with comments such as “They really should play this EVERY 9/11 without changing anything!” “It still brings tears to my eyes,” and “We must never forget! How heartfelt. I’m sobbing right now as I work at my desk.”
Others also commented on their memories and experiences of the incident, with one saying: “I still can’t get over it. I lost a lot of friends on that horrible day. Every August it starts to seep into my mind and no you don’t leave until a week later. It holds it makes me sick. I appreciate Budweiser for this heartfelt gesture. Please take a moment to think about the fallen and lost members of the FDNY/NYPD who so bravely risked their lives to try to save others.
Another individual shared his own story of witnessing the final stages of filming the ad, saying: “I was there. There wasn’t a dry eye between us. One of us who had lost friends or loved ones was so moved by the memorial that he started having trouble breathing. After an O2 and then a Bud Light he felt better.
In 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an updated version of the ad aired, reaffirming its lasting impact and relevance.
Watch the video below:
In a world often marked by division and discord, this ad is a testament to the power of art and storytelling to unite and heal. It reminds us that even in our darkest hours there is beauty, strength, and a shared humanity that transcends tragedy. As we remember the events of September 11, 2001, let us also remember the hope, resilience, and unity that rose from the ashes, symbolized by those majestic Clydesdales.