Budweiser Tugs at Heartstrings, Goes Too Far?

BudWieser We’ve all heard about ad campaigns that go too far – and we think Budweiser’s latest anti-drinking and driving spot in that category.

The spot (watch it on AdAge here) focuses on a man coming home with a puppy, and then how the two bond over time to become the best of friends. About halfway through, the owner goes out with friends, holding a case of beer and telling the dog he will, “be home soon buddy.”

And that’s when your emotions get dropkicked into submission. Viewers are left to watch the dog look longingly out the window and wander around the house sadly, making it seem like days have passed. Then comes the message – “for some, the waiting never ended.”

Did you feel that sharp pain in your chest? We sure did.

When GIFs of the commercial first started showing up on social media sites like Tumblr, the ending was left out – making it seem as if the owner died and never returned. It was actually a relief to see the spot, where the owner comes home after deciding that he was too intoxicated to drive home the night before, so he stayed at a friend’s place. For dog lovers and owners, though, the damage is already done and hearts are already shattered.

The “Friends Are Waiting” campaign seems like it could be successful, at first – but then you have to consider the audience. Dog lovers will probably try to avoid the commercial whenever possible, animal lovers in general might even do the same. Can saccharine, heartstring pulling public service announcements really do the job when it comes to sending a message? Do these commercials hit us for only a moment, and then fade into the background when we learn how to switch away from them fast enough?

If anything, “Friends Are Waiting” is going to teach us a valuable lesson. If fear won’t send a message across, and emotional beat downs have the same effect – what will work? Maybe “Friends Are Waiting” is a sign that we need to start rethinking the way we market PSAs.