In 1958, Budweiser released an advertisement starring a husband, who seems frustrated with some construction work, and his wife, who is happily pouring him a tall glass of beer (see figure 1). At first glance, the picture seems innocent, but if you break it down you perceive the subliminal message it is sending to its audience.
At the top of the picture sits the Budweiser brand name and below it rests its motto: “Where there’s life… there’s Bud.” Most, if not all advertisements include these critical aspects. Companies want customers to know what their product is and by using a catchy motto, they can easily draw in consumers. However, this motto also suggests more than just a catchy phrase. It states that without Budweiser beer, life simply is not possible. Any task, such as simple construction or maybe even the repair of a phone, cannot be done without enjoying a nice cold Budweiser beer. Putting this thought into customer’s heads makes the thought of purchasing beer far more appealing. Afterall, who would not enjoy a beer while hard at work? Certainly not the man featured in this picture. Before taking a look at the most eye catching part of this advertisement, there is one more important phrase positioned just under the man’s head. This phrase states, “THE KING’S CREDENTIALS: The King of Beers prints its ingredients right on the label. Know of any other beer that does?” Now this is just a straight up power move. Budwesier is asserting its dominance amongst all the different brands of beer. According to Budwesier, no other beer prints its ingredients on the label because only the King of Beers (Budweiser) can do this.
Above The King’s Credentials is the most eye catching portion of this picture. There is a man wearing a red collared shirt and holding a hammer as if he was just working on a project. His expressions seems a little frustrated and reads “oh well.” Behind him is his wife. She is a young blonde woman wearing a light pink sweater. She is smiling happily as she pours her husband a tall glass of Budweiser because she knows this may help him feel better. Or at least that is what the advertisement is trying to portray. Now, the target audience of this ad is not necessarily targeting anyone at random. Infact, it is targeting the female audience in this case. While the man is the main subject of this picture, it is the woman who is bringing the emotion to the ad. During this time it was assumed that a woman’s role in the house was to be the perfect housewife. Budweiser appeals to women by suggesting that if they serve their husbands Budweiser while they’re working it will make her and her husband much happier. You can tell by the face the man is making that even though he is frustrated, he is happier now that his wife has given him. It can also appeal to men, especially those who do not yet have a wife or significant other. This ad suggests that men in “perfect” marriages drink Budweiser which can influence consumer’s purchases even more.
The color of this picture is also important. Imagine this ad containing primarily dark or neutral colors. Instead of a red background and big white letters, pretend the background is white with black letters. This image is far less eye catching when compared to the actual ad. The color red has many significant meanings. It can mean death, blood, strength, or even love. In this case, the color red is used to symbolize the feeling of love the wife feels towards her husband in this ad. This is extremely convenient, not only does red represent love and make the picture pop, but it also is a common theme in the product advertised itself. By overwhelming customer’s senses with the color red, it makes it easier for them to begin associating red with the Budweiser brand. This tactic is basic conditioning and a very useful psychological tactic when one is trying to influence another’s actions. Of course, another visual aspect of this ad that is important is the glass of beer itself. The action of the beer being poured and the way it fizzes makes it seem fresh, refreshing and nearly drinkable off the page. This makes viewers more thirsty and more likely to purchase a pack of Budweiser because everyone knows alcohol is definitely hydrating.