Hope the baby horse looked like any other foal her age. However, she wasn’t just an ordinary equine. That’s because Hope had been bred to fulfill a very specific destiny. And that fate would lead to her finding fame of epic proportions.
Anheuser-Busch has been brewing its famous Budweiser beer for close to 150 years. Based out of St. Louis, Missouri, Anheuser-Busch’s beverage has become one of the most recognized brands in the U.S. and beyond, partly in thanks to its clever advertising campaigns.
Over the years, Budweiser commercials have used puppet frogs to sell us beer and had us all shouting “Whassup?” down our phones at the turn of the century. But of all the company’s marketing ploys, it is the use of the Budweiser Clydesdales that is perhaps the most enduring.
The horses – whose breed originates from Scotland – were chosen as a gift for August Anheuser Busch Sr. by his son to mark the end of Prohibition in 1933. August A. Busch Jr. surprised his dad, who emerged from the brewery to find a hitch of Clydesdales pulling along a Budweiser beer wagon.
Since then the Clydesdales have followed Budweiser on every step of its journey. From parading the first barrel of pose-Prohibition beer through St. Louis to stopping by the White House to drop off a case for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the horses have helped shape Budweiser into the brand it is today.
To this day, several teams of horses tour the U.S. while more remain at the Budweiser brewery in St. Louis, as well other locations around the country. In total, Anheuser-Busch has 250 Clydesdales, making them one of the biggest herds of that species anywhere around the globe.
But what is life actually like for these majestic animals? Well, many of them are born at Warm Springs Ranch, a Clydesdale breeding facility not far from Boonville, Missouri, where most of the Budweiser herd are kept.
In January 2013 the ranch welcomed their first two foals of the year. The first was a colt named Stan and the second was a filly called Hope. And it was little Hope that was given one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed upon a Budweiser Clydesdale – the opportunity to appear in her very own Super Bowl ad.
The Clydesdales have starred in Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercials since 1986. With that in mind, it has become something of a tradition for the company to use one of their famous horses at the National Football League championship game.
And 2013 was no exception. That year, it would be Hope’s job to win the hearts and minds of watching sports fans, with a heartwarming ad that chronicled the unwavering connection between one foal and its trainer.
In the 60-second commercial, Hope shows off her acting talents by playing a male horse. The spot – which was called “Brotherhood” – follows the foal as it takes its first tentative steps out of the stable and into the care of his trainer.
The trainer dedicates his time to feeding and caring for the playful youngster until it’s time for the animal to go off and learn what it takes to become a real Budweiser Clydesdale. He waves his friend off with a smile on his face, but it soon becomes clear that the trainer is missing his old pal.
Without the young horse he’d grown to love so much, for the trainer the ranch is just that little bit lonelier. However, as hard as the separation may be, it’s all worthwhile. That’s because, three years later, the trainer discovers his foal has made it as a Budweiser Clydesdale.
Like a proud father, the trainer rushes to Chicago to watch his former charge parade through the city. And as he does so, a tear forms in his eye and the lump in his throat grows ever so slightly larger. But his trip is about to get even more emotional.
That’s because, when the parade is over, the horse turns around and spots his old trainer heading in the opposite direction. Unable to let his friend go without showing his gratitude, the Clydesdale gallops through the emptying streets where he enjoys an emotional reunion with the man who raised him.
The heartwarming advert proved popular with audiences. As a result, it was later crowned as USA Today’s Ad Meter for Super Bowl XLVII. But while the commercial touched the general public, it also moved the real-life Clydesdale trainers. That’s because they knew the ad’s story all too well.
In 2013 Warm Springs Ranch supervisor John Soto explained to ABC News, “Even though we don’t see them after they’re two, they were born here. So of course when you go out on the road and if you see the hitch and those are your babies that we raised, you gotta have some pride in that.”
As it happens, Hope the foal will not follow in the footsteps of her onscreen persona. That’s because only male horses can become touring Budweiser Clydesdales. She may be kept at the ranch for breeding purposes. But she’s already fulfilled her destiny of becoming a television sensation.
Hope is just one in a long line of Clydesdales to represent the brand. And Budweiser hopes to continue the tradition for years to come. The company’s vice president Rob McCarthy explained, “They’re a symbol of the company and to many people a symbol of the country. The freedom and spirit that is America is embodied in these majestic Clydesdales.”
And Jeff Knapper, who runs Budweiser’s breeding facility, voiced similar sentiments. “The company is committed to the Clydesdales,” he said. “They represent the tradition and the heritage and the quality that goes into everything we do.”