Retro Commercials: Budweiser Clydesdales Christmas

I don’t know about you, but commercials can often take me back to my formative years as quickly as any song or movie can. That is why we will continue this semi-regular feature on ’80s commercials that I consider particularly memorable, noteworthy, or forgotten. Television commercials were much more influential back when we were forced to watch them without the luxury to fast-forward through and/or stream shows with limited or no interruptions. This issue will cover the Budweiser Clydesdales Christmas commercials from the ’80s.

I have always liked Christmas commercials that don’t necessarily try to sell any particular product other than wishing happiness and goodwill during the holiday season. One memorable example of this from the ’80s is Budweiser who created a simple Merry Christmas commercial featuring their iconic Clydesdales. The Budweiser Clydesdales originated back in 1933 to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition. They were used in marketing ever since and first appeared in a Super Bowl commercial in 1975 which later became an annual tradition starting in 1986. Even though memorable in their own right, this feature is not covering the Super Bowl commercials, we are just covering the Christmas commercials this time.

The advertising agency of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) had served as the sole agency for Anheuser-Busch’s flagship Budweiser beer brand from 1915 until 1994 including creating those original iconic Clydesdale commercials. The first Christmas commercial appears to have begun airing in 1982 and you can watch that one right here…

Then in 1986, they used a similar format and updated it a little. This one is the one that most people remember because it was used annually for many years since then. That is another trait I enjoy in a classic Christmas commercial when they use the same commercial each year creating a holiday tradition. A great example of that is from Hershey Kisses. Here is that iconic Budweiser Christmas commercial which debuted back to 1986…

I could watch them over and over during December. Doesn’t show any product, just promoting the comfort and joy of the season. Featuring snippets of the team of Clydesdales peacefully making their way through the countryside and town. Then wishing their customers the very best during the holiday season. Just a pure classic. The song featured in the commercials is a slowed down instrumental version of “Here Comes the King” which was originally written in 1971 specifically for Budweiser commercials. It is amazing how they take a polka and make it feel like a peaceful Christmas tune.

There you go, another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. Surprisingly, Anheuser Busch has attempted to discontinue these traditional Clydesdale commercials in attempts to appeal to a younger customer several times over the years, but always receive backlash from fans which have kept them around. The brand has commented, “The Clydesdales play a strong role for the brand, representing Budweiser quality and care for more than 80 years. As icons of the brand – and relevant symbols of integrity, perfection and team spirit for all generations – they are important to the brand and our campaigns.” I don’t know about all of that, but I do agree that they are iconic and that this particular Christmas commercial is also iconic in its own way. I know it is one that always gives me warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia each year when I would see it. And it’s another one that came from the ’80s.

More Retro Commercial Features on TRN

About OldSchool80s 87 Articles
Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.

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