Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Budweiser Getting Rid Of Its Clydesdales Is Marketing Suicide

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Yes, on November 24th, 2014, it was announced that Budweiser is making one of the worst possible decisions ever.

They are stabling their iconic Clydesdale horses this holiday season, and guess who’s to blame. You might have guessed it, a young audience.

The "King of Beers" has decided to aim for a younger audience. So now they are in talks with someone by the name of Jay-Z (no last name given).

They are also looking into doing festivals, and, believe it or not, zombie themed parties to attract younger crowds.

Budweiser has seen a dip in popularity in sales the last 25 years and it’s parent-company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, said that 44% have never even drank a Bud.

The age group tested was around the ages of 21-27 in America says the Wall Street Journal.

Because Budweiser has had a drop in sales, selling more than 50 Million barrels in 1988 to a mere 16 Million in 2013, Bud is getting rid of their team of famous Clydesdales.

According to industry statistics, light and craft beers are responsible for their decline. Since 4.6 Million people turned 21 this last year, a number which is the biggest number of legal drinkers since the Baby Boom, so now Budweiser is appealing to them by "moderizing" their ad campaign.


The Clydesdale Breed: Farmers living in the 19th century along the banks of the River Clyde in Lanarkshire, Scotland, bred the Great Flemish Horse, the forerunner of the Clydesdale. 

These first draft horses pulled loads of more than 1 ton at a walking speed of five miles per hour. Soon their reputation spread beyond the Scottish borders. 

In the mid-1800s, Canadians of Scottish descent brought the first Clydesdales to the United States where the draft horses resumed their existence on farms. 

Today, the Clydesdales are used primarily for breeding and show.

Hitch Requirements: To qualify for one of the traveling hitches, a Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age, stand 72 inches at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, have a bay coat,four white legs,a white blaze, and a black mane and tail.

Feed: Each hitch horse will consume as much as 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 50 to 60 pounds of hay, and 30 gallons of water per day.

Hitch Locations: The Budweiser Clydesdales can be viewed at the Anheuser-Busch breweries in St. Louis, Mo., Merrimack, N.H., and Ft. Collins, Colo. 

They also may be viewed at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and at Warm Springs Ranch, the 300-plus acre Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Mo.

Clydesdale Operations: Based in St. Louis, Mo., Clydesdale Operations is responsible for maintaining and scheduling the traveling hitches. Thousands of requests for the “gentle giants” are received each year. 

Events are typically requested and sponsored in part by the local Anheuser-Busch wholesaler. 

Each request is evaluated on the type of event, dates, and history of appearances in that particular area.

Stables: The official home of the Budweiser Clydesdale is an ornate brick and stained-glass stable built in 1885 on the historic 100-acre Anheuser-Busch brewery complex in St. Louis. 

The building is one of three located on the brewery grounds that are registered as historic landmarks by the federal government.

Handlers: Expert groomers travel on the road with the hitch. They are on the road at least 10 months every year.  

When necessary, one handler provides around-the-clock care for the horses, ensuring their safety and comfort.

Transport: Ten horses, the famous red, white, and gold beer wagon and other essential equipment are transported in three 50-foot tractor-trailers. 

Cameras mounted in the trailers are connected to monitors in the cabs that enable the drivers to keep a watchful eye on their precious cargo during transport. 

The team stops each night at local stables so the “gentle giants” can rest.

Air-cushioned suspension and thick rubber flooring in the trailers ease the rigors of traveling.

Drivers: Driving the combined 12 tons of wagon and horses requires expert skill and physical strength. 

The 40 pounds of lines held by the driver plus the tension of the horses pulling creates a weight of over 75 pounds. Hitch drivers endure a lengthy training process before they assume the prestigious role of “Budweiser Clydesdale Hitch Driver.”

Harness: Each harness and collar weighs approximately 130 pounds.

The harness is handcrafted with solid brass, patent leather, and stitched with pure linen thread. The harness is made to fit any Clydesdale.

However, Budweiser says that collars come in various sizes and must be individually fitted to the Clydesdales like a finely tailored suit.

Names: Duke, Captain, Mark, and Bud are just a few of the names given to the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Names are kept short to make it easier for the driver to give commands to the horses during a performance.

Horseshoes: Clydesdale horseshoes measure more than 20 inches from end to end and weigh about 5 pounds which is more than twice as long and five times as heavy as the shoe worn by a light horse. 

Wagon: Turn-of-the-century beer wagons have been meticulously restored and are kept in excellent repair. 

The wagons are equipped with two braking systems: a hydraulic pedal device that slows the vehicle for turns and downhill descents, and a hand-brake that locks the rear wheels when the wagon is at a halt.

As for the Bud Dalmatians? Dalmatians have traveled with the Clydesdales hitch since the 1950s.

The Dalmatian breed long has been associated with horses and valued for their speed, endurance, and dependable nature. Dalmatians were known as coach dogs because they ran between the wheels of coaches or carriages and were companions to the horses. 

Today, the Dalmatians are perched atop the wagon, proudly seated next to the driver.


Will Budweiser reconsider their new marketing strategy and keep their world famous wagon and Clydesdales?

Well, if they are smart they will. But at the same time, many companies go after new consumer groups with all sorts of advertising tricks to appeal to certain age groups, so why shouldn't Budweiser?

The "King of Beer" may now want to be known as the "Boss of Brew" to the younger set and that's OK.

But Budweiser should take this bit of advice, don't throw the baby out with the bath water just yet.

They should remember that big companies, like Bud, or even Coca-Cola who once had to return Classic Coke to their lineup because "they thought" a new generation wasn't buying it, has to try to bring in new consumers while not alienating the consumer group that is presenting keeping them in business.

Budweiser should remember that those drinking their product sort of expect to be catered to as well. 

They should remember that there was a lot of resentment when Budweiser sold out to a foreign beer maker in Europe.

To many, getting rid of the Clydesdale will be marketing suicide.

The thing that kills any beer is the same as with any product. Change the quality and you lose customers.

If they change their whole product, and get rid of the horses, I believe many may just find another beer.


Budweiser put out this statement this morning, November 25th, 2014: 

"The story this morning may have left a wrong impression – the Budweiser Clydesdales will, in fact, be featured in next year’s Super Bowl advertising and are also a part of upcoming holiday responsible drinking advertising.
The Clydesdales play a strong role for the brand, representing Budweiser quality and care for more than 80 years. As icons of the brand—and relevant symbols of integrity, perfection and team spirit for all generations—they are important to the brand and our campaigns." -- Budweiser. 
Tom Correa


  1. The stats you provide clearly show that their worst business decision was to sell out to InBev. In my mind, that was when they ceased being the King of Beers! Now they struggle for survival. Maybe they will make a comeback, maybe not. But they sold out for the bucks. Let them choke on what's left. Maybe the beer is also made in China now with all those great organic healthy grains and pure mountain water.

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  3. I don't drink and even I'M intoxicated when it comes to this tragic news! Horses and beer. Lord have mercy.


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