Budweiser Clydesdales
Budweiser Clydesdales

Budweiser, the iconic American beer brand, is not only renowned for its refreshing taste but also for its enduring commitment to tradition and heritage. One of the most striking and recognizable symbols of Budweiser’s legacy is the majestic Clydesdale horse. For over a century, Budweiser has harnessed the power and grace of these magnificent horses to create a unique and enduring connection with its consumers.

The Origin of the Clydesdale Horse

Before we delve into the relationship between Budweiser and the Clydesdale horses, let’s first understand the history and origin of the Clydesdale breed itself.

Clydesdale horses, characterized by their impressive size, strength, and distinctive feathering on their lower legs, trace their roots to the Clydesdale region of Scotland. The breed’s development began in the early 18th century when farmers in the area sought to breed horses that could handle the challenging terrain and heavy agricultural work. The result was a breed known for its power and versatility.

These horses were initially used for farm work, hauling heavy loads, and plowing fields. However, their impressive appearance and strength soon caught the attention of brewers and other industries that required heavy-duty horsepower for transportation.

The Clydesdales in Brewing

The use of Clydesdale horses in brewing can be traced back to the late 19th century when the transportation of beer was a laborious and often perilous task. The roads were poorly maintained, and the wagons used to transport barrels of beer were often heavy and cumbersome. To overcome these challenges, breweries turned to the Clydesdales, which proved to be the perfect solution.

The Clydesdales’ remarkable strength, combined with their graceful appearance and docile nature, made them ideal for the task of delivering beer. They could pull the heavy beer wagons with ease, ensuring that the precious cargo arrived safely at its destination. Their presence also served as a powerful marketing tool, drawing attention to the breweries and their products.

Budweiser and the Clydesdales: A Match Made in Advertising Heaven

The association between Budweiser and the Clydesdales began in the early 1930s, during the era of Prohibition and the Great Depression. At a time when the brewing industry faced immense challenges, Budweiser sought to reinforce its commitment to quality and tradition. The Clydesdales were chosen as the embodiment of these values.

In 1933, as Prohibition came to an end, August A. Busch Jr., then-president of Anheuser-Busch, made a bold and visionary decision. He decided to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition by parading a team of Clydesdales through the streets of New York City. This event marked the beginning of a long and enduring partnership between Budweiser and the Clydesdales.

The Clydesdales were not just a means of transportation; they became symbols of Budweiser’s unwavering dedication to quality and tradition. The sight of these magnificent horses pulling the famous red beer wagons became an iconic image, etching itself into the hearts and minds of consumers across the country.

The Clydesdales as Brand Ambassadors

One of the key reasons why Budweiser continues to use Clydesdales is their unmatched ability to serve as brand ambassadors. The Clydesdales are more than just horses; they represent a timeless connection to a bygone era when craftsmanship and tradition were paramount.

Here are some of the reasons why Clydesdales make perfect brand ambassadors for Budweiser:

  1. Tradition and Heritage: The Clydesdales embody the values of tradition and heritage that are at the core of Budweiser’s identity. They harken back to a simpler time when beer was brewed with care and delivered with pride. By using Clydesdales, Budweiser pays homage to its own storied history and the brewing traditions that have been passed down through generations.
  2. Visual Impact: The Clydesdales are visually striking, with their massive size, flowing manes, and distinctive feathered hooves. They command attention wherever they go, ensuring that Budweiser’s message is not only seen but also remembered.
  3. Emotional Connection: The Clydesdales evoke a sense of nostalgia and warmth in consumers. Their appearance in Budweiser’s advertising campaigns is often associated with special occasions, such as Super Bowl commercials and holiday-themed ads. This emotional connection helps build a bond between the brand and its consumers.
  4. Reliability and Trustworthiness: Just as Clydesdales were relied upon to safely transport beer in the past, they symbolize reliability and trustworthiness. Budweiser wants its consumers to know that they can depend on the brand for a high-quality and consistent product.

The Evolution of Clydesdale Advertising

Over the decades, Budweiser has leveraged the Clydesdales in various advertising campaigns, each with its own unique twist. These campaigns have evolved to resonate with changing consumer sentiments and advertising trends while maintaining the essence of tradition and heritage.

  1. The Clydesdales in Super Bowl Commercials: Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercials have become legendary, and the Clydesdales have played a central role in many of them. These ads often feature heartwarming stories that tug at the heartstrings of viewers, leaving a lasting impression. Whether it’s a tale of friendship between a Clydesdale and a puppy or a tribute to first responders, these commercials consistently generate buzz and emotional connections.
  2. Holiday Campaigns: Budweiser’s holiday-themed commercials featuring the Clydesdales have become an eagerly anticipated tradition. These ads often center around themes of togetherness, family, and the spirit of giving, all while featuring the Clydesdales in a magical, snowy setting.
  3. Community Involvement: Budweiser has also used the Clydesdales to support charitable causes and community events. The Clydesdales often participate in parades, festivals, and fundraisers, bringing joy to communities and reinforcing Budweiser’s commitment to being a responsible and caring brand.
  4. Limited-Edition Packaging: Budweiser has released limited-edition packaging featuring the Clydesdales, creating collectible items that appeal to both beer enthusiasts and horse lovers. These packaging designs serve as a visual reminder of Budweiser’s connection to the Clydesdales.

Maintaining the Tradition

In recent years, as consumer preferences and marketing strategies have evolved, some have questioned the continued use of the Clydesdales in Budweiser’s advertising. However, Budweiser has remained committed to this iconic symbol of tradition and heritage. Here’s why:

  1. Differentiation: In a crowded and competitive beer market, the Clydesdales set Budweiser apart from the rest. While many beer brands focus on modernity and innovation, Budweiser’s use of Clydesdales emphasizes its timeless commitment to quality and tradition.
  2. Authenticity: The Clydesdales represent authenticity in a world where authenticity is increasingly valued by consumers. By maintaining their use, Budweiser remains true to its roots and the values that have defined the brand for over a century.
  3. Nostalgia: Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, and Budweiser’s association with the Clydesdales taps into this sentiment. The Clydesdales evoke fond memories of simpler times and special moments, creating a strong emotional connection with consumers.
  4. Relevance: Despite their historical significance, Budweiser has adapted the use of Clydesdales to remain relevant in the modern era. The brand has integrated the Clydesdales into digital marketing, social media campaigns, and virtual reality experiences, ensuring that they appeal to a younger and tech-savvy audience.

The Future of Budweiser and Clydesdales

As we look to the future, it’s clear that Budweiser’s relationship with the Clydesdales will continue to evolve while staying rooted in tradition. The Clydesdales will remain an enduring symbol of Budweiser’s heritage, values, and commitment to delivering a high-quality product.

Here are some ways in which we can expect to see the Clydesdales featured in Budweiser’s future endeavors:

  1. Continued Digital Engagement: Budweiser will leverage the power of digital media to connect with a broader and more diverse audience. Expect to see the Clydesdales featured in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences, interactive social media campaigns, and online content that tells the story of the Clydesdales in innovative ways.
  2. Environmental Responsibility: Budweiser will likely use its association with the Clydesdales to emphasize its commitment to environmental sustainability. The brand may showcase efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and promote responsible agriculture, aligning with the values of a modern, eco-conscious consumer base.
  3. Partnerships and Collaborations: Budweiser may explore partnerships and collaborations that align with the Clydesdales’ image. This could include collaborations with equine welfare organizations, historical preservation initiatives, or other brands that share a commitment to tradition and quality.
  4. Global Reach: While the Clydesdales are deeply rooted in American culture, Budweiser is a global brand. We may see efforts to introduce the Clydesdales to international markets, helping to create a global connection to Budweiser’s heritage.

The enduring partnership between Budweiser and the Clydesdales is a testament to the power of tradition, heritage, and effective branding. The Clydesdales have transcended their role as mere workhorses and have become iconic symbols of Budweiser’s values and commitment to quality.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that Budweiser will continue to leverage the timeless appeal of the Clydesdales while adapting to the ever-changing landscape of consumer preferences and marketing trends. The Clydesdales will remain a beloved and enduring symbol of Budweiser’s legacy, reminding us all of the importance of tradition and the value of staying true to one’s roots in an increasingly fast-paced world.

So, the next time you see a team of Clydesdales pulling a bright red Budweiser wagon, take a moment to appreciate the rich history, tradition, and heritage that they represent. They are not just horses; they are a living embodiment of the American brewing tradition, and they are here to stay.


Anheuser-Busch. (2022). rick_clydesdales_0483 [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.anheuser-busch.com/about/clydesdale