There’s A 9/11 Ad That Was Only Ever Aired One Time. Now You Can Only Find It On The Internet

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the world changed forever. In the months that followed, emotions ran high, as America paid tribute to all those who were lost on that fateful day in New York City. With that in mind, an extraordinary 9/11 commercial aired, just once, during the 2002 Super Bowl.

As unusual as it might seem, the Super Bowl commercials are hugely significant to the fans watching at home. Indeed, it could be argued that the ads are as highly anticipated as the big game itself, with the commercials becoming more elaborate each year. However, one ad in particular continues to stand out from the rest.

In the spring of 1933, the end Prohibition in America was in sight, as President Roosevelt revoked the alcohol-banning Volstead Act. Thanks to his signature, the public could now legally purchase beer containing alcohol of up to 3.2 percent. Not long after that, the president of the Anheuser-Busch brewery received a surprise from his two sons.

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August A. Busch Sr was given a carriage drawn by six Clydesdale horses, which in turn inspired a marketing campaign. Indeed, sometime after that, a second Clydesdale wagon made it’s way to New York. The sight drew a huge crowd, as a case of the company’s beer was delivered to Alfred E. Smith, the city’s governor. Budweiser didn’t stop there, though.

The Clydesdale beer cart toured several states in the weeks that followed, eventually arriving in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. While there, the hitch made another delivery of Budweiser, this time to President Roosevelt himself. With that in mind, the marketing ploy proved an emphatic success.

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Before long, an eight-horse hitch was introduced, as the Clydesdales quickly became synonymous with the Budweiser brand. Despite that, though, it wasn’t until 1986 that the famous horses finally made their Super Bowl debut. Since then, the equines have featured in over 25 ads shown during the game. However, one advert in particular continues to strike a chord.

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Following the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Anheuser-Busch wanted to pay their own tribute. Ahead of the 2002 Super Bowl, the company looked to put together a very special commercial, utilizing the Budweiser Clydesdales.

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The ad begins with the Clydesdale wagon leaving a snow-covered farm, traveling along a number of country roads. From there, the commercial cuts to a shot of the horses walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Then they arrive at a snowy Battery Park. As they face the city’s skyline, the Clydesdales then bow their heads in unison, bringing the ad to an end.

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However, Anheuser-Busch faced several challenges before filming the commercial in New York. Indeed, the company needed permission from congress ahead of the shoot, as well as their fellow advertisers. Not only that, but they also contacted the city’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani, to seek his approval.

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“We filmed in New York City,” Bob Lachky, Anheuser-Busch Global Creative’s former vice president, told website The Blaze in September 2015. “We had a helicopter going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Mayor Giuliani let us into the city. [We were] the only film company of any sort right after 9/11 to actually come into air space with our helicopter to film the Clydesdales.”

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“[We filmed] the hitch coming into Battery Park and it was amazing,” Lachky continued. “Just amazing.” Due to the timing of the filming, though, emotions were still incredibly raw around the Big Apple. “The police were very, very nervous about everything that was going on in the city at that time,” he added.

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The commercial aired during Super Bowl XXXVI, capturing the hearts of a hurting nation in the process. However, that would be the only time the ad was ever broadcast on American television, meaning those who missed it never got another opportunity to see it. Years later, though, they finally got their chance.

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Indeed, the memorable commercial was first uploaded to YouTube in March 2008, some six years after it’s original airing. Since then, the video has earned over 22 million views and more than 75,000 likes. And, of course, it also inspired thousands of comments from online users.

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“It doesn’t matter if it was the first or 20th time I’ve seen this commercial, I end up needing a tissue every single time,” wrote user Darlanne. “So moving. The most powerful ‘commercial’ ever made. No, we will never forget.”

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Fellow user Victoria Vanderveer, echoed those feelings and also noted upon the commercial’s brief appearance on television. “This ad is one of the most touching I’ve ever seen,” she wrote. “I wish America had seen it much more than once.”

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“With this tribute, we wanted to respectfully honor those affected by the events of September 11,” Anheuser-Busch’s Jorn Socquet told the site Business Insider in September 2016. “While the original ad aired just once, the Budweiser Clydesdales delivered our sentiments in a moving way that continues to resonate.”

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“We are humbled to hear from people around the world who are re-watching and sharing the ad online as a way of observing the 15th anniversary,” Socquet added. While the original commercial continued to captivate first-time viewers over the internet, Anheuser-Busch planned another special ad back in 2011.

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On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the company released an updated version of the Budweiser Clydesdale commercial. The ad hits the same beats as its predecessor with some minor changes, showcasing the passage of time. “We’ll never forget,” reads the message at the end of the commercial.

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“We feel our 9/11 Clydesdales tribute ad is very special,” Anheuser-Busch’s Paul Chibe wrote in a statement in September 2011. “We were proud to re-air the spot on the tenth anniversary, as a way to raise awareness of the fundraising campaign for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.”

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“The subtle changes in the ad were intended to reflect the passing of time, and the most important point, that we should never forget those lost and affected by 9/11,” Chibe added. Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the latter point. The two commercials captured it perfectly, and will no doubt continue to stand the test of time as a result.

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