Budweiser’s heartwarming Super Bowl ad “Puppy Love” tells the story of a puppy’s dogged determination to hang out with his favorite Budweiser Clydesdale horse — and the horse’s reaction.
The 60-second commercial — which was shot on horse ranches in Southern California a few weeks ago — posed challenges for the actors, crew members and animal trainers involved in the elaborate production.
First, there were the majestic Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses. Then there were the puppies — eight puppies, all 10-weeks old when the commercial was shot — required to get the desired shots.
Anheuser-Busch horse trainers spent three months last fall and early this winter working with 17 Clydesdale horses in preparation for the commercial. They had to fine-tune the horses’ skills, such as leaping over a fence. They also had to make sure the horses felt comfortable nuzzling noses with a puppy during a key scene in the commercial.
The production was a labor of love for those involved. But at times, it demanded plenty of willpower.
“There were all these puppies on the shoot, and we received special instructions on the call sheet that said: ‘Don’t pet the puppies!,’” actor Don Jeanes, who portrays the Clydesdale trainer in the commercial, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“I could hardly stand it,” Jeanes said.
The ‘Don’t pet the puppies!’ mandate was given because the animal trainers didn’t want the dogs to get too excited or lose their focus on the commands they were taught so they would perform on cue.
This was Jeanes’ second appearance in a Budweiser Super Bowl commercial. Last year, he originated his role as the Clydesdale trainer. In that spot, called “Brotherhood,” Jeanes’ character drives into town to get a glimpse of his favorite Clydesdale, who was appearing in a parade.
Jeanes, a 33-year-old Texas native, landed the role for the 2013 Super Bowl ad because of his ease being around horses. He grew up on a ranch with cows and quarter horses.
The Clydesdales, Jeanes said, are an amazing breed.
“They are huge, and I loved watching the trainers work with them. It was fascinating to see how they responded to the commands,” Jeanes said. “Their eyes are so expressive you could see them watch the trainers, and you could actually see the horses think."
In this year’s ad, which is shaping up to be one of the most popular commercials in the Super Bowl, Jeanes plays the horse trainer who lives near another farm where puppies are raised for adoption.
The ad was directed by Jake Scott, son of the famed director Ridley Scott. Jake Scott also directed last year’s “Brotherhood” Budweiser Clydesdale ad that featured Jeanes.
This time around, Scott shot as many as 60 different scenes for the final “Puppy Love” spot. The bulk of the ad was shot at Ventura Farms in Thousand Oaks.
New York ad agency Anomaly developed the spot.
Actress Melissa Keller, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who also has appeared in L’Oreal, Revlon, Noxzema, Aveda and Gap ads, plays the neighbor who raises puppies.
Last week, within 24 hours of posting the Budweiser “Puppy Love” commercial on YouTube, it was viewed 17 million times. By Sunday morning, the commercial had been played 32 million times.
As many as 110 million people could watch it during the Super Bowl.
Jeanes said last month, when the commercial shoot wrapped up after three days, the trainers finally allowed him and others to handle the puppies.
“I petted them and hugged them and squeezed them, they were just so darn cute,” Jeanes said.
“It was an honor to be in such a great commercial,” he added. “C’mon, they put horses and puppies in it. What more can you ask for?”