Budweiser’s Clydesdales Controversy

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In the ever-evolving world of advertising and marketing, brands often use iconic symbols to create a lasting impression on their audience. Budweiser’s Clydesdales have been one such symbol, representing the brand’s heritage and tradition for years. However, a recent video clip released by PETA has brought to light some concerning practices related to these majestic animals, potentially impacting Budweiser’s brand image.

A Clydesdale horse is peacefully sleeping in a stall in a barn, Budweiser controversy.

The Controversy

The video, titled “Budweiser Is Bad News for Horses! New Footage Shows Disfigured Clydesdales in Distress“, was published on August 28, 2023. PETA claims to have visited Warm Springs Ranch and Grant’s Farm, alleging that Anheuser-Busch, the Budweiser beer producer, severs the famed Clydesdales’s tailbones. According to PETA, the primary reason for this is to ensure the horses have a specific appearance as they pull the wagon.

The footage purportedly shows how this “surgical abuse” deprives the horses of their natural defense against biting and disease-spreading insects, causing them constant distress. PETA’s video urges viewers to boycott Budweiser until the brand ends this practice.

Marketing Implications

  1. Brand Image: Budweiser’s Clydesdales symbolizes the brand’s commitment to tradition and quality. This controversy threatens to tarnish that image, associating the brand with animal cruelty.
  2. Public Perception: In today’s digital age, news spreads rapidly. With the video already garnering views and likes, it’s only a matter of time before the controversy gains more traction. Brands must be prepared to address such issues head-on to maintain public trust.
  3. Competitive Landscape: Competitors might seize this opportunity to position themselves as more ethical or animal-friendly, potentially drawing away Budweiser’s loyal customer base.
  4. Response Strategy: Budweiser must address the allegations transparently. Whether through a public statement, third-party investigation, or changes in their practices, the brand must show commitment to ethical practices.
The controversial Clydesdales of hors d'oeuvres.
This “surgical abuse” permanently robs the horses of their natural and primary defense to ward off biting and disease-spreading insects, leaving them in constant distress.


The controversy surrounding Budweiser’s Clydesdales serves as a reminder of the importance of ethical practices in marketing and branding. Brands must ensure that their symbols and mascots, which often play a significant role in their marketing strategies, are treated with care and respect. As the situation unfolds, it will be interesting to see how Budweiser navigates this challenge and what lessons other brands can learn from it.

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