The Game Within the Game
The advertisement I chose to analyze from the 2017 Super Bowl is titled “Born the Hard Way” and is promoting the Anheuser-Busch product, Budweiser. The commercial starts with a young man scribbling through a book, working through treacherous conditions until he is approached by a random person asking him, “Why leave Germany?” What then appears to be some sort of passport, the man has his documents stamped and is admitted legally into the United States in New York City. The man continues his journey west, where he is met with great criticism from already established immigrants, as well as other dangerous encounters along the frontier. He finally makes it to the city of St. Louis, where he is then offered a beer from a very generous man. He proceeds to show the man his drawings from his sketch book and says we will drink this beer next time, pointing a picture of a Budweiser bottle. The two men then introduce themselves as Anheuser and Busch and the rest of their history is known from there.
This advertisement is trying to sell to an older audience, at least those of the legal drinking age, and is trying to create a sense of nostalgia and make a connection to the American Dream, or Manifest Destiny. The company, or even the product, are not mentioned until almost the very end of the advertisement. Through it’s entirety, it has the making and feel of a Budweiser commercial but we are not confirmed of this until the two men introduce themselves as Anheuser and Busch, respectively. The ad definitely follows the narrative structure and I feel has a very strong connection with its audience. It is clear that the story of an immigrant is being depicted. Many Americans can relate to this sentiment as countless numbers of our ancestors went through the same trials and tribulations as the main character in the commercial. We get basic background of where our character is from and what his intentions are. There is a strong middle, building context for what the character is trying to accomplish and the hardships he must endure. And finally in the end, we learn that our character makes good on his long commitment and eventually will make a successful living as immigrant in the United States.
Through Keith A. Quesenberry’s research on Super Bowl advertisements, we are able to conclude that an audience reacts more positively to an advertisement when it follows a five-act dramatic form. People are more easily able to relate and follow these commercials as it provides structure and a basic storyline. In Super Bowl advertisements, this can be difficult because often times a company is only given at most a minute to promote their product and engage their audience at the same time. Still, the ad that I chose to analyze follows this five act narrative, even if the components of the structure are brief. Compared to other Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser ads, this one definitely takes more a nostalgia approach, as opposed to strong emotional feelings that you see with the numerous puppy ads. This ad, “Born the Hard Way”, speaks to hard work and dedication Americans put in over the centuries to provide the rest of us with an easier way of living. It tells the audience that drinking a Budweiser is the most patriotic way to pay tribute to our country and that this beverage is the most American of all beers. There is no better way to make this connection than on Super Bowl Sunday, which has become the most Americanized event across our entire nation.