Title: Post-9/11 Budweiser Ad
Year of Work: 2002, 2011
Material: Digital video with sound.
References to rural America are often made in public and commercial discourse in times of national crisis, as noted with the World War II propaganda poster and Life magazine cover to the far left on this wall. During the aftermath of September 11th, a number of large American companies attempted to comment on our collective experience. Budweiser was one of these. The beer company aired a compelling tribute during the 2002 Super Bowl in which the famed Clydesdale horses are harnessed to their trademark wagon and trek across the American Midwest. They traverse hilly landscape lit by a dramatic sunset, past an idyllic red barn and through small towns. After crossing the Brooklyn Bridge the horses kneel before Ground Zero with Lady Liberty in the background. For the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 many companies made new tribute ads or reprised old ones. Budweiser repurposed their commercial by digitally adding to the New York skyline the new One World Trade Center, still under construction. Bright green grass replaced the original ad’s snow, as if to suggest a national rebirth. Also new is the closing statement: “We’ll Never Forget.”
Reactions to the ads were mixed. Many felt the beer company intended to profit from the tragic event. Others believed companies should be able to express their feelings. The first ad was aired only once, avoiding much potential criticism.
–Natalie Marsh Director, Gund Gallery