Tuesday, February 4, 2014
55 images to a sweet spot
The Budwesier commercial titled “Puppy Love” is one of the most amazing pieces of storytelling I have ever seen. I dare you to watch it and not be touched.
The ad, directed by Jake Scott and starring Don Jeanes, Melissa Keller, eight 10-week-old puppies and 17 Clydesdale horses (playing one puppy and five horses, respectively), was prepared to run during Sunday’s big game. But it was released last week on YouTube, and by game time it had been viewed more than 33 million times. I was about a dozen of those views.
Using 55 shots in 58 seconds (not counting the two-second Budweiser slide at the end), the ad tells the story of a puppy and a horse that form a friendship so strong that the Clydesdales prevent her from being adopted.
I was so charmed by the ad that I sat down and catalogued all 55 shots to see how it was that I was turned into teary-eyed mush.
It’s interesting to see how much information was packed into each shot – and how much the viewers retains even though you can’t possibly see everything in every flash. Here it is, shot by shot:
1. Once upon a time there was a place called Warm Springs Puppy Adoption.
2. We meet Melissa, the puppy breeder, who is holding a big puppy while a prospective buyer pets its head.
3. The puppies are in a circular pen, and two pups are watching something outside of the pen.
4. It’s a little puppy escaping!
5. The escapee digs under the fence and …
6. … emerges on the other side, then …
7. runs across the field to an adjacent horse farm.
8. The little pup nudges open the horse barn door and peeks inside,
9. sits in front of a stall as a Clydesdale looks down.
10. We see the puppy close up as she paws at the big horse.
11. And the horse leans down toward the pup.
12. We see the puppy and horse nose to nose.
13. The camera has pulled back so we can see the horse’s whole head as they nuzzle.
14. Don the horse breeder is taking something from the barn to load into his truck and looks over.
15. The puppy is dancing in circles in front of the horse, which is nodding.
16. Don puts his stuff down and walks toward us.
17. He reaches down and picks up the pup as the horse watches.
18. As the camera pulls back, the horse is watching with ears straight up.
19. The puppy is draped over Don’s shoulder, looking back with sad eyes.
20. From inside Don’s truck, we see him returning the puppy as Melissa walks up shaking her head as if to say, “Yeah, this one likes to run away.”
21. Don hands the puppy to Melissa.
22. We see Don’s face as he delivers the pup.
23. We see her face as she accepts the pup and smiles.
24. Don is back in his barn, working in front of his workbench. It’s raining outside.
25. From puppy-eye level, we see the little dog trot past him from outside. The camera pans up to his face.
26. Melissa opens the door to her house to find Don holding a wet puppy.
27. It’s the same angle as shot No. 5, except this time Melissa catches the puppy before she gets under the fence.
28. She walks the pup up to a man in sunglasses who is leaning against his car checking the messages on his smartphone.
29. He has taken the pup from Melissa, who brushes her hair back.
30. The door closes on the puppy in the man’s back seat. She’s being adopted!
31. As the door slams, out in the fenced-in field, the Clydesdale looks up in alarm.
32. The car goes up the driveway, kicking up dust as it speeds between the wooden horse fences.
33. The puppy gets up in the window, scrapes at the glass, barks and whimpers.
34. We see a shot from inside the car as the horse gallops along.
35. The puppy clambors up and looks out the back window – the car is outpacing the Clydesdale.
36-37. In a flash front shot and a full side shot, we see the horse leap over a fence as it gallops.
38. The puppy barks behind the receding back window.
39. A group of four other Clydesdale looks up and begins to move.
40. We see that the first horse is now in the driveway chasing the car.
41. The man in the sunglasses squints at his rear-view mirror.
42. He and we see the horse in the mirror!
43. He looks forward again, leans back and slams on the brakes.
44. … because the four other Clydesdales are running toward the front of the car as he brakes.
45. Four horses in front, one in back, surround the now-stopped car.
46. Back at the ranch, Don is pulling a haybale off a pile.
47. In a closer shot, he turns and looks over our shoulder to see …
48. A wide shot of the puppy leading five Clydesdale horses up the driveway.
49. We see a closeup of the pup marching toward us with horsey feet behind.
50. Don has a “Well, I’ll be” expression on his face and exhales what could be a joyful sob (to cue the audience).
51. He kneels down and the puppy runs into his arms.
52. He stands and picks up the wriggling puppy.
53. A closeup of smiling Don as the wriggly pup licks his face.
54. The puppy is in the grass looking up; she barks and begins to dance in circles.
55. In a wide shot, we see the Clydesdale standing over the dancing puppy. Melissa and Don are leaning on the fence watching the scene as the camera pulls back.
And they all lived happily ever after!