Bud Light in Damage-Control Mode

After receiving backlash for its partnership with trans actor and social media star Dylan Mulvaney, Budweiser has released a new patriotic ad featuring its signature Clydesdale horse mascot. . . . The ad shows the Clydesdale galloping past patriotic symbols, such as people raising an American flag and the Lincoln Memorial.

—CBS News.

A Zoom call.

WRITER: We open on a horse. Cut to, like, a farmer. Then a welder. Then a man on a horse. Maybe a jockey. We hear a voice-over. Reciting the Gettysburg Address.

ART DIRECTOR: I like that.

ACCOUNT EXEC: Does that make any sense, though?

STRATEGIST: Maybe let’s back up. Just to recap. We need something that appeals to our base. Sends a clear message about who we are as a beer and as a brand. American. Masculine. Tough.

EXEC: While at the same time deeply feminine and open to new and exciting sexual ideas.


EXEC: While also using horses.

STRATEGIST: A win would be a spot that almost says something but doesn’t.

WRITER: What about this? We open on a field. Midwest. One of those places they grow wheat or whatever. A lone farmer. He runs his hand over the tops of the wheat.

ART DIRECTOR: Yes. Yes. And maybe we notice—it’s subtle—maybe we notice that his bare muscular chest is gleaming with sweat.

WRITER: Yes. That’s very good. And we pull back to reveal another farmer. Also male. Also half nude and insanely fit. And he has a look that says, “Let’s do this.”

STRATEGIST: Wait. Do what?

ART DIRECTOR: Shoe a horse, perhaps. Throw lumps of hay. Maybe get it on. It doesn’t matter. They hold hands.

EXEC: Are there horses?

WRITER: Two. Running. Slo-mo. We know they’re running to go have sex.

STRATEGIST: But is it on brand?

WRITER: It is if the farmers’ wives are also in the field. Young. Beautiful. Possibly pregnant. They share a look that suggests “Those husbands of ours.”

ART DIRECTOR: Cut to a construction site. A pickup truck. Men load wood. Or bricks.

EXEC: A horse nearby.

WRITER: Maybe chill on the horse thing, Glen.

ART DIRECTOR: Or maybe it’s a flag factory. American flags everywhere. The workers stop and look up at the flags waving in the breeze.

WRITER: And when we cut back all the men are in drag.


ART DIRECTOR: Why not is the question.

WRITER: Big muscles. But also a lovely ball gown and a tiara.

EXEC: O.K. I buy it. But what other images say red-state America like construction workers in drag?

WRITER: The Grand Canyon. Firefighters. The Lincoln Memorial.

ART DIRECTOR: Yes. But we use C.G.I. to make Lincoln wink.

STRATEGIST: Is that legal?

EXEC: Could he be holding a can of Bud Light?

WRITER: Farmers, fields, horses, someone doing something with horseshoes, rodeos, a kid on a horse, wheat, fields, cowboy hats . . . but all the while we hear John Mellencamp’s “Little Pink Houses.” But sung by the Whiffenpoofs.

ART DIRECTOR: Perfect. And everyone is trans. Not overtly.

STRATEGIST: Sorry. I worry we’re straying a bit. Maybe let’s focus on the script.

WRITER: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

ART DIRECTOR: I love that. Sputnik. We could show Sputnik. Old footage. The moon landing. Pearl Harbor. Watergate. These are just words, I know. But still.

STRATEGIST: What does that have to do with us?

WRITER: Walls. Metaphorical walls. We’re tearing them down. By building new ones. Listen. Just listen. A voice is heard, over the images. “America. Who are we? Where are we? How are we? We’re good. How are you? Look. America is more than just beer. It’s all of us. Together. But apart. The American way.”

ART DIRECTOR: That’s amazing.

strategist: Is it, though?

exec: Apparently, a pony isn’t a baby horse, just a breed of small horses.

ART DIRECTOR: “America. You big place, you. Strong and bold. Gay and straight. Hungry for sex of all kinds. And, after, maybe you’re thirsty. This story of America isn’t just about beer. It’s about you and me. And beer.”


STRATEGIST: Do we lose the sex stuff?

EXEC: I like it.

ART DIRECTOR: Fields. Farmers. Wheat. Monuments. Horses . . .

EXEC: Ponies . . .

ART DIRECTOR: Fishing. Men hugging. Men wrestling. Showering. Camping. Saluting. In uniform. Out of uniform. No uniform. We’ll hear sweeping music. We’ll say words. The words will have almost no meaning.

WRITER: I like this a lot.

STRATEGIST: We’ll appeal to no one and everyone. Which is brave. Because it dares to say nothing.

EXEC: And that’s the Budweiser brand. Purely American.

STRATEGIST: Owned by Belgians. Let’s show the client. ♦

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