The story behind the Super Bowl commercial that only aired once

The Big Game

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – With Budweiser sitting out the Super Bowl this year, it’s a perfect excuse to look back at the story behind the unforgettable ad that only aired once, during the Big Game 19 years ago.

The poignant commercial featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales aired during Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3, 2002. In the ad, the horses honor the memory of those lost in the September 11 terror attacks with an unforgettable, breathtaking bow.

The commercial only aired one time during Super Bowl XXXVI on February 3, 2002, but many people have never forgotten it.

Anheuser-Busch’s creative team came up with the concept and moved heaven and earth to make the commercial. They had to get approval from members of Congress, the advertising community and from New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

“We filmed in New York City,” Bob Lachky, former executive vice president of Anheuser-Busch Global Creative told KTVI during a 2019 interview. “We had a helicopter going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Mayor Giuliani let us into the city — the only film company of any sort right after 9-11. To actually come into air space with our helicopter to film the Clydesdale… the hitch coming into Battery Park and it was amazing…just amazing.”

It was amazing, especially considering how New York was a city still hurting. And yet a St. Louis-based company, touched by the pain of the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil, took a risk to help one of our favorite cities and our nation heal.

The company’s logo is absent throughout the entire video until the very end.

Anheuser-Busch addressed the ad in a statement to Snopes:

We truly appreciate your interest in one of our Super Bowl 2002 commercials, “Clydesdale Respect.”

As you have heard, this commercial aired only once. However, we continue to be overwhelmed by the positive response. Anheuser-Busch is proud to be an American beer company and we wanted to express ourselves in respectfully honoring those affected by the events of September 11th We are pleased that the Budweiser Clydesdales were able to deliver our sentiments in a way that has resonated with many Americans.

At this time, we have no plans to air this commercial again. Although it was available for a period of one year on our Web site, we have since chosen to update the site with fresher ads.

Budweiser did air an updated version of the commercial on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attacks — however the original commercial (below) has only aired one time.

In January, Anheuser-Busch announced it would opt out of advertising for Budweiser during this year’s Super Bowl as part of the company’s “holistic” advertising plan. Anheuser-Busch said it would redirect advertising money to support COVID-19 vaccine awareness.

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