Disclosure: I attended a press event for the launch of P&G‘s Raising An Olympian short films last fall. I have no connection to Budweiser or the #BudweiserPuppy.
Normally, I write about commercials over on my marketing blog, and share my opinion about both execution and effectiveness, focusing on how well they reach (or don’t) the target audience. While it is entirely possible that I will get around to a post about this year’s Super Bowl and Olympic entrants, just in case I don’t, I want to offer up some purely personal opinions about P&G’s 2014 Thank You Mom/Raising an Olympian campaign and Budweiser’s stellar Super Bowl entrant, the #BudweiserPuppy.
The company began using its Olympic ad budget to recognize the mothers of Olympic athletes in 2010, as the “proud sponsor of moms” and continued in 2012 with a massive multi-brand campaign around the London Summer games, #ThankYouMom. The cornerstone of the 2014 campaign is a series of films (28 worldwide) interviewing Olympic and Paralympic moms about “Raising an Olympian.”
And it’s a winner. Not just because it tugs at the heartstrings, and makes you want to call your mom. I like this campaign because it is a positive portrayal of mothers, something we don’t see as often as we should in advertising. More often than not, Mom is a stereotype.
Certainly those who criticize the campaign for its focus on moms have a point; in all probability, Dad is equally supportive of his athletic child and may even be just as likely to buy toilet paper or chauffeur to early am practices. But, at the end of the day, the audience knows that. Thanking Mom doesn’t detract from Dad or pretend that he isn’t a part of the story.
For me, however, it does go a long way toward offsetting the many negative or stereotypical portrayals of women, and especially mothers, in mass advertising. These moms of Olympians are real people. Even if our kids will never win a gold medal, we can identify with their hopes and dreams for their children. We have them too.
Another reason to like this year’s campaign is the Raising An Olympian films themselves, which give as good a picture of the hard work these athletes, and their families, have invested in achieving their dream as any network-produced biography spot.
Budweiser. You win at Super Bowl commercials. That is all. I even allow artistic license on two things that a responsible breeder would never do: the “puppy adoption” sign and letting the new owner put the puppy loose in the car.
Update 2/3/2014: A fellow dog breeder and good friend reached out to me this morning about the #BudweiserPuppy ad. There *are* a few things about the ad that a responsible breeder would hate, as they give the wrong impression about dog breeding. Specifically, and I reference them above, a breeder would never have a Puppy Adoption sign on her property nor would she let the new owner take a puppy loose in the car. If you don’t come with the crate, you don’t get the dog. Also very unlikely that the puppy would be able to sneak out so repeatedly.
It’s also pretty clear to me that the woman is supposed to be a responsible breeder, not a shelter or rescue. You only see one breed and a litter of puppies. Would it be more realistic if you saw the dam? Would it be better if they hadn’t had the “adoption” sign? Sure, but this is a commercial. It’s fake!
I truly believe Budweiser wanted to make a heartwarming, puppy-centric commercial that would sell some beer. Not spark controversy about purebred versus shelter dogs.
And it is a great commercial. It’s funny and cute and animals, and I’m just choosing to forgive Budweiser for mistakes that I attribute to artistic license. Most viewers wouldn’t get that the woman was a breeder without some sort of sign, and I prefer to think they just didn’t know that the term “pet adoption” is often used to bash purebred breeders. The crate? You can’t have the heart-wrenching scene with the doggie in the car window, followed by the Clydesdales and the dog running home, if the puppy were crated. It’s a story.
But it bears repeating. If you want to adopt from a shelter, go for it. Just do your homework and know what you are buying with your “adoption fee.” If you are interested in a purebred dog, that’s an equally good and responsible option. Do your homework on your breed, and look for a responsible breeder through the national or local breed club or the AKC. She won’t have an adoption sign on her lawn, she will put you through a pretty exhaustive check before she sells you a puppy (and rescue will be JUST as strict), and if you don’t have a crate on the day you come to pick up your puppy, it won’t be going home with you.
Hey #BudweiserPuppy – maybe you could share some of these tips with your many followers?
Deb Rox says
So interesting. None of the breeder stuff settled in my head at all when I saw the spot–I thought of as romantic poetic license, as you said, the puppy version of Kate and Leo precariously on the bow of the Titanic. Well, maybe not that dramatic. I love your idea of them using the ad as a springboard to share adoption or puppy care tips! That’s why every ad needs a good blogger campaign behind or in front of it!
Grown and Flown says
I totally agree that these two spots were well-done commercials. P&G’s tag line “Proud Sponsor of Moms” is brilliant and a perfect corporate message. And really, even without the details you point out on the Bud spot, I cannot get enough of that lab puppy. Almost makes me want to start drinking their beer, almost.