We hadn't seen any major breakout hits among the 2014 Super Bowl teasers and full ads this week. But this 60-second Budweiser spot from Anomaly, released Wednesday morning, is destined for great things.
It's a sequel of sorts to last year's "Brotherhood," one of the strongest and best-loved Bud ads in a long time, about a baby Clydesdale and its trainer. Sticking with the baby theme, this year's spot is about a 10-week-old puppy who keeps escaping his adoption center and makes friends with the Clydesdales on a nearby farm. The same actor from last year, Don Jeanes, reprises his role as the Clydesdale trainer. And again, this spot is anchored by a strong musical choice. Last year it was Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." This time it is "Let Her Go" by Passenger.
It's a bit less gritty than last year's ad, but the cute factor will overwhelm helpless Super Bowl viewers. Plus, there's a nice multilayered story going on—with the subtle parallels between the puppy/Clydesdale and horse trainer/puppy adoption owner. (The actress in the spot is Melissa Keller, who, the brewer points out, appeared in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions.)
In terms of visuals and pacing, the spot is almost absurdly well produced and directed by RSA's Jake Scott. The scenes come off as both sweet and iconic, small yet grand—particularly the lovely moment, perhaps the ad's best, where the Clydesdales surround the car of the man who has come to take the puppy away. The plot also taps into Bud's affinity for dogs, as seen in its ad history, particularly the Dalmatian spots from the late 1990s.
In all, the spot—which premiered on Wednesday's Today show on NBC—is a very worthy sequel. And whatever else airs on the game, it will surely be among the top five best-liked spots. Bud will also air one other :60, also from Anomaly, in which a U.S. serviceman returning home receives an unexpectedly grand hero's welcome.