Last night’s Budweiser ad “A Hero’s Welcome” was exploitative and offensive

I’m just going to get right into it. I am not a fan of this ad. It makes me angry. I’ve written previously about the recent growth of exploitative, “homecoming” images used as entertainment. This is worse, because it’s not entertainment. It’s an advertisement. Fitting for Budweiser, the “King of Beers” to go bigger than the rest.

An empty airport, two separated souls embracing, an outpouring of joy. Stirring music accompaniment to bring you along if the images weren’t enough. Smiling faces and old people saluting.

This is not how homecomings happen. It is an anomaly. A staged event. A charade.

Mind you, this advertisement appeared in the midst of the biggest football game of the year. A sport whose identity has been interwoven with the military through the spectacle of pre-game military flyovers, salutes to troops, moments of silence, and images of soldiers watching from overseas. To watch American football is to support the military.

Also interwoven, but often brushed aside, is the tragic story of Pat Tillman, the player who left the NFL to enlist in the Army and tragically died when he was shot by members of his own unit. And the strange way that both NFL players and soldiers face traumatic brain injuries from their time spent on the gridiron or the battlefield, and then struggle to readjust to life outside and find good medical care.

Undoubtedly, as the commercial began, the room you were in got quiet and somber as you watched. If it wasn’t quiet, someone aggressively shouted down the room to pay attention – this was important. You watched. When it ended, someone quietly commented how nice that was of Budweiser.

Then the game came back on and no one gave it a second thought. If you happened to be drinking Budweiser, you felt good for doing your part to “support the troops.”

“Everybody supports the troops,” Dime woofs, “support the troops, support the troops, hell yeah we’re so fucking PROUD of our troops, but when it comes to actual money? Like somebody might have to come out of pocket for the troops? Then all the sudden we’re on everybody’s tight-ass budget. Talk is cheap, I got that, but gimme a break. Talk is cheap but money screams, this is our country, guys. And I fear for it. I think we should all fear for it.” – Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Don’t be fooled. What you saw last night was a beer advertisement. The ultimate aim was to sell more beer. The last thing you saw, after all, was a bright red screen with the Budweiser logo. The hope is that you link “supporting the troops,” a vague, meaningless statement, to drinking Budweiser beer.

Yes, the images we saw were nice. The homecoming that young 1LT Chuck Nadd received undoubtedly felt special to him and his family. And Budweiser and its parent company, Anheuser Busch, have donated millions of dollars to military charities. That is commendable.

That said, this homecoming wasn’t coordinated with pure altruism in mind. If it was, we wouldn’t know about it. It wouldn’t have been filmed and edited. And Budweiser certainly wouldn’t have bought some of the most expensive ad space known to man to showcase it for millions of beer drinking Americans.

What then, was the goal of running that ad last night? Was it to demonstrate how Budweiser beer cares about the military? Can a corporation care at all? Was it to increase awareness of the service and sacrifice of soldiers and their families? Or was the whole thing designed to sell more beer? There was no call to action in the ad, after all. Just a pithy hashtag to “#Salute a Hero.”


Maybe if I was younger or not so involved in this world I would be more forgiving and just accept what I saw as a nice way to honor our troops. As someone pointed out to me, at least it is better than the homecoming many Vietnam veterans received when they came home. Maybe I should lighten up, some might say. It was a nice gesture.

The problem is, it’s not about the homecoming or the images I saw on the screen. It’s about the way those images are being used. I’ve been seeing this same thing over and over since 2001. The image of US service members used for others’ gain. Packaged, edited, and put to music to make you “feel” something. Then the logo for whatever product is being sold.

And you’re not supposed to challenge it because to challenge it is to challenge the “troops.”

I’m not challenging the troops. I’m not challenging 1LT Nadd.

Welcome home, LT.

I’m challenging the way we simply accept anything linked to the troops as gospel. We must support whatever it is that we see on the screen because it was linked to the troops.

This is exploitation at its worse because so few will see it as so. I understand that my sentiment, though shared by many others who serve and have served, is in the extreme minority.

I’d be much more pleased if Budweiser left the military alone and stuck to “WAZZUP” and frogs. If you want to do something for the military, do it quietly, without plastering your logo on the end of it.

137 thoughts on “Last night’s Budweiser ad “A Hero’s Welcome” was exploitative and offensive

  1. I think that yes it was a commercial for beer obviously, its Budweiser doing the commercial, but the fact is they do show support for the military one way or another. They could have gone with something else totally. Maybe they inspired someone somewhere. We all know how patriotism in this country is going down the toilet.

        • Ann

          That’s interesting, ’cause I took her to mean the opposite of what you said. From Sarahs’ comment she supports the ad, and it seems she sees criticism for things like this ad as a deterioration of patriotism. I wanted her to explain herself what she meant before I laid into. If I got her wrong, then she’s very welcome to come back and clear her meaning.

          All that said, I completely share your sentiments. Thanks for another great post Don.

          PS I was about to suggest Billy Lynns Long Half Time Walk and the writings of Andrew Bacevich, but I see you got there already;)

    • Cliff W. Gilmore

      And had they gone with something else the collective public reaction would have been pretty much the same: “Oooooo… Look at the clever thing they did with the horses (and puppy or kitty or young child or family in the winter snow or verdant spring or summer sun or autumn colors). I feel some warm insi.. Hey! The game’s back on!”

      Sure, it’s a pleasant little piece or marketing work that combined all the right Marketing 101 elements with a huge budget to create great, well, marketing. And sure, undoubtedly it inspired some people.

      This was advertising. Which means by definition someone paid for it in order to strengthen their brand recognition and make sales. Any supporting of us troops this may have done was tangential and fleeting at best.

      As the author said, no hard feelings for the Lieutenant and his lovely bride. But I’ll be heading home soon after a year in Afghanistan and if anyone asked me how they can show their appreciation and support, “Turn me into a marketing tool” wouldn’t make the list.

      • George

        I think the only reason a normal veteran (like myself) would turn this down is that we wouldn’t want all of the attention… I could care less about being used as a marketing tool (that also happens to remind people that we are still in a war that is never mentioned in the news). Thank me with some super bowl tickets, put it on tv, flash the budweiser logo at the end, and say thank a troop. That works well enough for me.

  2. Leary

    DUDE, you need to get a persepctive. The parent company of Bud beer, offers FREE entry into their theme parks (one a year) for every servicemember and first responders. Have you ever been on a YS tasker, and deployed as an individual, had your return flight delayed to you land at 0300 and the airport is closed. Well I have and it looked A LOT like the airport depicted in the commercial and you know what else, the other passengers, let me off the plane first so I could get to my family and they were kind enough the allow me space… so you could have filmed my arrival at the airport for the commercial. IN my opion you missed the point of the commercial, think a little deeper. With 98% of the country who have NEVER served, don’t you think just maybe the commercial was more about, WHY every servicemenber returning is not greeted like this young LT…. Sorry if you weren’t, you should have… every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine deseves the welcome home just like the commercial, we cannot thank them enough. So from a VET who served 28 years with a tour to Iraq and Afghanistan, thanks BUD :-)

    • Greg

      Disagree…I am a Soldier of over a decade…and in Afghanistan…and that commercial made me want to vomit. For some reason America feels the need to correct the wrong of how vietnam vets were treated…and are over compensating. We are normal Americans, just like everyone else….we don’t need to be put up on a pedastol…

    • Cliff W. Gilmore

      Here’s some perspective as I prepare to head home after a year in Afghanistan: No. We should NOT all greeted upon our return home by turning us into multi-million dollar marketing campaign props. We CAN be thanked enough and are often thanked too much and supported in incredibly non-supportive ways. Like, say, by turning us into multi-million dollar marketing campaign props.

    • Ruben N.

      I agree. Thank you for your service. I regret it now but I threw away most of my military clothes ’cause I didn’t want to hear the negative stuff.
      Ruben N.
      Eagle Rock,CA

      • Ruben N.

        I agree with Leary. Plus what’s wrong with people wanting to thank you for your service? Just don’t let people know about it if you don’t want to be bothered.

    • It may be free to enter, but they do not comp your food, games, toys, and special events. It is a marketing ploy.

      I think what this person is trying to point out the commercialism and its sad attempt to continue using our emotions to drive sales. If this commercial was for a charitable organization, which was promoted by Budweiser then I may have found it moving. This is a sad attempt to get people to buy more beer at the expense of our military members. Unfortunately the public and military members are brainwashed by parties involved. I speak as a vet and marketing major, amd find all of this commercialism revolting

    • Mark

      No dude, the commercial is ABOUT BEER, and SELLING BEER, and preying on our sympathies and feelings toward the military, that is it. IMAGERY used to sell beer, you are given a free pass to a theme park so everyone knows it, so you buy the beer. Let me see them do something without public knowledge. It is an ad campaign, a PR stunt, done out of your blood sweat and tears.

  3. Greg

    Thanks Author…Many service members feel the same way….This is getting excessive and the ad was overkill and exploitative. That LT’s career is over….he will never live it down. The military boards are lighting up over this…..

  4. Nicole

    Why don’t we all bitch about SOMETHING, because you don’t agree. At least Budweiser is supporting the troops. Can’t you just get past what you don’t agree and instead focus on something positive?! I forgot, that’s impossible considering the world we live in. Geez, I’m married to a career soldier of 26 years in the military and he didn’t find the commercial offensive. At least there is support to the troops. Find something better to complain about like children carrying guns to school and shooting their classmates. In that complaint you can actually talk trash about how irresponsible parents are to leave firearms available to children, instead of how Budweiser is promoting beer while welcoming a soldier home.

    • Cliff W. Gilmore

      Well, Nicole, for what it’s worth, I’m a “troop” preparing to head home after a year in Afghanistan and, call me out for “bitching” if you’d like, but this ad didn’t “support” me in any particular way. It made many people feel nice and didn’t particularly offend me. But the author raises some pretty valid points and, y’know, generalizing is still generalizing whether one chants the “we support our troops” mantra or just parrots hyperbolic talking point designed to create disproportionate fear by exploiting specific incidents of gun violence. For that matter, the gun lobby may well have Bud beat. Advertising costs millions — but stimulating the masses to carry your message for free, now THAT is marketing genius.

    • SSG Friedel

      Dude, what you don’t understand is that this commercial could cause problems just as serious as those you are referring to. Corporate greed is nothing new, but using the military to sell something, it is getting out of control. There are deep sociological problems here that you dependapotomus ass cannot understand. Now get back to stealing some BAH and shut up.

    • Greg

      “At least Budweiser is supporting the troops” is the entire point of the above piece. They aren’t doing more than any other brand nationally, but they are using a returning vet to promote their beer. The author is entirely correct when he said that this is an attempt to link “supporting the troops” with a specific beer company in a well coordinated and costly ploy. It seems to have ensnared you.

  5. TM

    I was in the service for 10 years. My husband is currently deployed. I thought it was a nice commercial. Who cares if it was staged or advertising beer? If you don’t like companies advertising with service members (who also donate MILLIONS to the military), then leave the room and come back in when the game resumes. Quit complaining.

    • It’s very doubtful a multinational company donates millions of dollars with purely altruistic intentions. The lack of opprobrium for Budweiser shown in the comments here is testament to that.

    • It is an ethical dilemma in which Budweiser is leading. They are sensationalizing our troops.

      Furthermore, many troops returning from war, let’s call it what it really is, are returning with ptsd. Many of which do not seek mefical attention, but a self medication through alcohol. This leads to alcoholism. My ex-husband, a Navy Corpsman on the front lines, is now a recovering alcoholic from his fits and bits with ptsd. A childhood friend served in the National Guard as an armed truck driver, returned home from being injured. His recovery response was to drink. Why use commercialism to support troops coming home with disorders that will lead to alcoholism? Is this socially responsible of Budweiser? Hell no!

      Think again about what you Think you are taking about.

  6. Jeff Allen

    I too felt uncomfortable as the ad ran. My thought was…what about the military person who served admirably and came home to an empty airport and took a taxi home. The one who came home to the sound of crickets. Every active duty military person who returns from deployment is a war zone should be given a heroes welcome, because that is just what they are. However, it is impractical to expect and impossible to pull off therefore leaving hundreds if not thousands of returning vets thinking “where is everybody?”


    How about stop f**king with our benefits and stop taking away what we earned! I never have drank so I could care less about the beer…. but care about my men who have served and can not receive treatments on time or without the red tape. I’ll bet if a Congressmen needed help he wouldn’t have to wait a second….

  8. Angela

    Seriously. Ad or no ad, this was an all American gesture to the troops that defend your right to be able to voice this opinion. It makes me sad that you feel this way, but it is your right. Every soldier does deserve a hero’s welcome. He went in my stead, we still are a free country, and we have them to thank. Also, Bud put their money, their product, their reputation into this Super Bowl Spot. They create jobs, industry, and in many cases opportunity. Those soldiers have fought for their right to use their money to promote their product in a free country. Our own government uses our taxes (money) to provide for a study of matting of some type of frog, which they don’t even inform me, or ask my permission. Talk about those kind of things instead of trying to take the bell out of “Let Freedom Ring”

    • First, 1LT Nadd didn’t go in “your stead.” Did you volunteer, but were unable to make it? I didn’t think so. Second, I did not fight so that Budweiser would have the freedom to make commercials in order to sell a product. In no soldiers contract does it state that their likeness can and will be used for a private corporations marketing strategy. Either the Lieutenant received some sort of remuneration for his appearance, or they asked him to do it pro bono, which is worse. Can you tell me what opportunities they create for veterans, outside of the 1LT? Stop with the jingoistic rhetoric and claiming to speak for all veterans and America when you state this was a “gesture to the troops”. There was no parade when I came home. There were no clydesdales pulling carriages or banners with my name on them. And if government studies of frogs mating (only one T) is your biggest concern, then you should take less time commenting on blogs and more time educating yourself on bigger issues.

  9. Thank you for speaking out on this….. According to Forbes magazine, a 1 minute ad cost $8 million, plus the production costs. How much would that have done if donated to veteran’s services and charities? Yes, the Budweiser company do give to non-profits (how fast can you say tax-breaks?) but far less than they will make from 1 exploitative ad. I support the troops, and the 1 guy featured in the ad (who actually looked a bit bewildered), but without a call to action, a donation site or something they enhanced their brand by tugging at the heart strings of a patriotic nation. They used the service of the brave to sell themselves. Not cool Bud, not cool.

  10. ardenrr

    Please don’t listen to the commenters who have nothing more to say than “Write something worth reading.” This is worth reading so thank you. I had actually forgotten about this commercial. I saw the Freshly Pressed Twitter link and was curious which ad were you talking about as this one didn’t even cross my mind. Once I saw the title, I immediately remembered. While watching the ad did not illicit this same response from me, I see exactly where you are coming from. I just want to thank you for your service and ask your opinion on where I should donate when I can. Many seem very supportive of the WWP but from my research, my money is more likely to go to advertising than to actually helping out a vet in need. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    PS – Did everyone else notice that the 1LT and his wife were in attendance at the SuperBowl?

  11. Yeah I agree. I live in Canada half the year and I don’t agree on spending billions of dollars on peacekeeping but I support even less any war which doesn’t have a direct link to the safety of the American populace. And I do care about those innocent people getting killed by drones.

  12. Jon

    Thanks for so eloquently expressing in words exactly what I’ve felt for some time now. I’m an active duty Marine with 20 years of service this year, and I can’t stand when my fellow service members and I are exploited to sell something, whether that be an actual product or a political idealogy. It’s disgusting, and we can see right through it!

  13. Thanks, from one who has served over twenty years, including Afghanistan. I’ve gotten a little tired of people who “support the troops” but won’t hire them after they return. While I appreciate when people say thank you, as is the company that made the commercial, I don’t like the impact of alcohol beverages on Soldiers who abuse them.

  14. Yes! I’m glad you’re speaking honestly about this. The commercial made me sick to my stomach. Glad you’re getting attention in the form of a Freshly Pressed spot, and good luck dealing with all the negativity that’s already rearing its ugly head here in the comment section. Sadly, you’re probably used to a lot of it by now.

  15. Jane prather

    As one of those troops who came home to a small family homecoming I was not offended. It was nice to see a heroes welcome for someone who sacrificed for his country. All returning vets should receive such a homecoming. We don’t, that’s life. I wasn’t even linking beer to the homecoming; just Budwieser showing the world how it should be done. You want to get upset, try coke having multicultural individuals singing America the Beautiful in different languages. This is the USA and that song should be sung in English. Really what’s next the National Amthem in Spanish or Chinese?

  16. It was Vietnam and the time was raw. We treated those guys badly. I think we tend to overreact to the guys there. They deserve the respect but they deserve help when they get back. Many have true problems. Note the World War Two vets did pretty well, but many of our returns now are not doing well. They have no trainable job cross overs. They need help and in our economy that is tough. They can go to school but to get a decree you can not use does not really help.

  17. Wow, I so agree with your sentiments in this article. Corporate America uses all of us as pawns to sell products. Some of us recognize it, and some of us are oblivious. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  18. Thanks for your service, Don, and thanks for speaking your mind. I’m happy for Chuck and it’s great to see him come home, it’s a joy, but it does feel a little strange to have a brand name attached to it. After all, you can not serve both God and money. In my opinion, however, this commercial serves God first. The product placement is a very distant second, an afterthought, compared to the beauty of this real-life happy ending/beginning. America’s a capitalist country—this commercial makes it a little sweeter.

    • Thank you for your response. I’m happy to see someone disagree with me without getting outraged or attacking me. I respect your opinion and it actually makes sense. It’s a good point.

    • My grandfather said it best. If you don’t like the way something is done. Get off your thumbs and do something. All service members deserve a heroes welcome. So here are the next steps you need to follow #1. Accept that in a world devoid of morals and full of men of zero action that commercials will now and will continue to exploit anything for gain. #2. Put your mouth were your motives are. Write posts advocating that all soldiers receive a welcome of the same standard that was received in said commercial. #3. Be a man of fewer words and instead strive to get reaction which in turn elicits action. You get one of two responses to drawn out rants. The mob mentality of way to go’s, or the people who picked through your post and only took from it what they wanted to hear. Words are so often similar to garbage. To much and it’s just a landfill. Make your point, and stand your ground. You practically wrote letters in response to any criticism you received. If you stand by your views then stand by them. Do not ever argue your point of view. When you do you weaken your own resolve. That said. I agree with some of what you said and disagree with other aspects. The rest of what you write was just rants and fillers. You made your point in two paragraphs and then you lost most of your readers. Don’t fire back with criticism or rants. That drivel is wasted on me. Take what you want from this and leave the rest. Above all stand by your convictions regardless of this criticism and any other you receive.

  19. No offense to most of you, but you’ve all taken a commercial a little too literal. Yes, it’s a beer commercial, and yes it has to do with the soldiers brave enough to sign up for a follow through with a job that could kill them any day. I’m happily married to a serviceman. He didn’t deeply think about or become outraged or offended by a beer commercial. Every time my service member has come home he didn’t get a huge celebration like this, or like I and his family would love to give him. But he does get a lot of support and handshakes everywhere he goes in our little small town, USA. It doesn’t matter what their underlying meaning or purpose was in this commercial. What matters is the fact that at the end they said that every soldier deserves a welcome home. Regardless if how big the welcome is, or how many people notice. They were trying to get the rest of our country to stop and think for a second (whether it hit home and set in or not) to realize that most soldiers don’t get thanked for what they do. That’s all. And the fact that so many got offended and upset about a minute long homecoming commercial is pretty ridiculous. You guys should feel a little pathetic for making such a huge deal of something you consider so minuscule. Let’s all go write blogs and rant about how Joe messed up a coin toss while we’re at it. Or how about one about all the pre and post Super Bowl pictures you see all over social media. I’m all for speaking your mind, but this was blown WAY out of proportion for no reason. Congrats, I hope you did the little angry man in your head proud : )

  20. I was listening to a listener on Market Place Radio earlier, and I cannot agree with her more. She called these type ads ‘Feel Good Grace’. These type of ads only seek to glory the self, and the thrills of the moment, after the commercial; nobody really cares unless those truly impacted by the casualties of war.

  21. Team Guy

    Usually the government doesn’t allow soldiers to be used as stage props, which may be why this young LT was out of uniform, it could all be staged and by writing this article and responding to the blog we are just pumping coins into the machine and feeding the buzz that the commercial was intended to produce.

    I don’t think that it hurts a thing to have this ad, AhB has showen in the past to have made adds like this with very little logo placement or purpose other than support for troops, like one of the most popular commercials of all time when the soldiers walk off the plane to cheers. I fail to see how this garners so much annoyance to write stories about, did the soldier feel used? Would this be equally annoying if it were police officer or fireman? Or should we just see another commercial lining up movie stars self promoting themselves and their pet causes with the sole intent of letting the world know how amazing and altruistic they are. Let this kid have his five minutes then fade back to obscurity… manning the wall.

    I know on every one of my deployments every first call or encounter began and ended with “lets get a beer together sometime” Nobody has to support the military, if you don’t want to then turn the other eye. I do agree that support for troops shouldn’t be forced and I despise soldiers how feel entitled to different treatment just because they wear a uniform. We exist to serve this nation not the other way around but if a company wants to express thanks, or to be seen as a company who cares then its their prerogative just like its yours not to watch tv, football or to purchase their product. This is this same tired argument that if we don’t like something then we can take to the public forum and have it legislated into nonexistence. The most powerful vote you have is your dollar!

  22. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    From the perspective of a military spouse, I had two thoughts about the commercial.
    1) “That is so nice!”
    2) “Wow. Comparatively, my little ‘welcome home’ signs suck.”

    But then I realized that it is advertising and like airbrushed magazine photos, of COURSE it’s perfect. It’s made to evoke emotions and pensive conversation and, yes, money-spending. Good for that guy, though. He’s a real soldier who did a real job.

    MadMen trickery or not, all soldiers deserve the best homecomings. …sometimes the best homecomings are hand-made signs and kids crying because they’re so happy to see their dad. Sometimes the best homecomings are just getting off the plane in America, no one to greet them but their Rear D and a frazzled FRG leader.

    You served our country and for that, I’m grateful. <3 Because of that sacrifice and service, we're all free to spout off in your general direction… Lucky you. :)

  23. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who was horrified by that ad. I know it was meant to be a show of support, but… yikes. I like my homecomings quiet and private – that would have been a miserable event for me and a lot of other people I know. When I get home from a deployment I just want to go home, see my family, take a 45 minute hot shower, and have a really good steak. I would have been horribly uncomfortable and embarrassed in that situation. A big crowd of strangers is stressful. Being thanked like that when your fellow servicemembers are still over there in danger is awkward. I would love to recommend all those very well-meaning people who want to support the troops to redirect their energy to some truly helpful activities, though: go visit some lonely folks in a VA hospital, write a letter to your congressman about fixing the VA backlog, offer to help babysit for a stressed spouse, give a military discount at your place of business, or send a care package full of goodies.

  24. Just another example of the age old discussion:
    Do good and be quiet about it or do good and be loud about it- so that others can follow your example.

    What is it, that the soldier loses when Bud is gaining something too? Is it exploitation? Or is it a win-win-situation?

  25. I liked the commercial. Made the audience think about the men and women who served in the armed forces, and who knows, may inspire some in the audience to do something positive for a veteran. I will not analyze the motivations of AB, other than to say they are in business to promote their brand and make money. There will be those who see exploitation in this ad, and it is their right to voice their opinion. Damn good writing, blogger.

  26. nikkiharvey

    I’m not American so you can completely disregard my opinion, but I feel like if they had a charity logo in the corner for the whole commercial then it would have been more acceptable.. Though still exploitative as is the nature of adverts.. Yes they would want their logo at the end in order to make some money (those advertising slots are expensive) but if they donate to charities why not put a charity logo in the corner.. Making themselves money and helping a charity get a prime advertising spot at the same time.. As I said, as I’m not American and haven’t even visited America since I was a child, feel free to disregard my opinion

  27. After just finishing reading Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (I believe I picked it up after reading one of your posts, Don), there’s no question that people have mistaken tearjerkers and flag-waving as substance. The more substantive issues at hand are after the homecomings, when the cameras go away. The sheer numbers of soldiers coming home this year alone who will not have jobs, appropriate occupational and physical rehabilitation, access to mental health care, addiction treatment, etc. should make us realize that magnetic ribbons and beer commercials will not be enough.

  28. societycommentator

    So, apparently, you think that everyone who watched this was too stupid to realize that Budweiser set-up this homecoming. Maybe a relative or someone from the town requested them to, we don’t know. Seems to me that the town supported the LT, which not everyone does. Good reminder for us all. What a sad world you live in that you only see the bad & there are only bad people and evil lurking.

  29. I totally agree with you. In the room where I was watching, people said, “cheap emotion,” and “bogus,” and “using our troops.” You weren’t the only one to be offended by the ad. It’s nice that Bud donates to veterans. Perhaps next time they will re-direct the millions they spent on the ad to that other, more useful line item in their budget. Thanks for calling them out.
    I’m not a vet, but I honor them and wish that corporations would quit using them to boost their profits. Especially corporations that sell products on which many veterans will become addicted to numb their pain. Will Bud also help the vets pay for rehab?
    Congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

  30. Couldn’t agree more. Not only was it exploitive on the part of Budweiser, but I feel as if the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) took part in the exploitation and sold themselves out for petty product placement. Most of you probably don’t know what I’m talking about because the VFW imagery was minor and subtle, making the sell-out all the worse. Let me be clear, I am a proud VFW life member, it is a great organization that is very close to my heart, however I feel that we are being taken in the wrong direction with our marketing and branding. Many of my comrades in the VFW are currently praising themselves and patting each other on the back for being able to convince Budweiser to what…help them sell beer? Rather than taking part in obvious exploitation, the VFW should be taking a stand against such behavior. As a combat veteran who once returned home, the last thing I wanted was a parade, fan fair or any kind of big todo. This commercial quite simply made obvious the disconnect between the VFW’s leadership and current conflict veterans.

  31. Thank You for this article. Yes, I want our veterans to be honored. Yes, I think every serviceman and woman deserves a big welcome home. However, using patriotism to sell- I don’t agree with.
    Not for Self, but for country.

  32. lkrause1997

    First of all, thank you for your service. I know that I would not be living the life I now have without men and women like yourself who have given all for this country. God bless you!

    Second, I enjoyed your post a lot. I hadn’t really thought anything while watching the commercial, but you make some very valid points. Perhaps corporations like Budweiser would prove more supportive if they simply donated to the cause without using a returning soldier as a marketing technique. Probably not going to happen with businesses and corporation, but I can hope right? :)

  33. I very much agree with what you’ve said here. It was definitely exploitative. I felt this way upon just hearing about the ad *before* the super bowl, and then when it aired I felt I had to keep my mouth shut because of how offensive I would seem by criticizing it. Ain’t that quite the switcharoo?

  34. nonoma

    It’s an advertisement, OF COURSE it’s exploitative and offensive – THATS THE POINT OF ADVERTISING! Don’t buy the beer, it tastes terrible anyway.

  35. poetofbokonon

    In a similar vein, interesting to note that springsteen’s “born in the USA” was grossly misrepresented by Reagan in his election campaign, given that the song isn’t about blind patriotism, but how disenfranchised many soldiers are on their return from active duty. Not living in the US I couldn’t comment on whether the song has yet been recognised for its true meaning…

  36. I can only imagine you had some sort of blog writing quota to fill that you had to come up with such a nonsensical complaint . I’ve had 4 deployments to Iraq plus a stint in Desert Storm this comes across as nothing more than Bud trying to sell beer and send a nice message. It’s a beer company, so what?

    Lighten up Francis.

  37. I am military daughter and have grown up watching people I know including my own father leave for deployments and return home. One thing is for sure that most soldiers do not want a big homecoming. They just want to come home and be with their families and loved ones. The commercial may have been liked by some, but for me sitting alone watching the commercial as my father is deployed it just reminded me of how much big companies are willing to use anything they can to get publicity. I appreciate the fact that you spoke out and stood up for what you think is right! Its refreshing to see and read now a days!

  38. USRecce

    What a whining piece of journalism. This reeks of liberal sanctimonious outrage. The article is purely an opinion, and most likely, many who have or are serving will agree. But as a 21 year veteran having served through 3 combat tours as a Scout, I am not among them. The writer exudes indignation that a hugely popular commercial product attempts to align themselves with the US Military. I say, hell yeah! Imagine this self righteous attitude from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, a time when voluntary military service was considered to be a mental defect. You absolutely have a right to your denigrating opinion, but know that many who are or haved served find this to be a form a flattery that a genuine American Icon like Budweiser would spend the time, effort, and money to try and be viewed proudly in association with the American Military. Despite your indignation, this, in my professional opinion, was a compliment.

    • I’m in the military and there are a lot of current military here in the comments who agree with me. No sense in getting all worked up. This is an issue that obviously touches a deeper nerve.

  39. Chatter Home

    As an Air Force wife, I completely agree with this post. We have welcomed our Daddy home more times than I can count without fanfare but always with a homemade sign and tears. I do not like the exploitation of welcome homes; it diminishes the importance of them to the families. Thanks for posting the truth. Shame on Budweiser.

  40. That ad irritated me when I saw it. I think my first thought was how awful of a product to associate with a soldier coming home from a place that could possibly have traumatized him. Yes, lets hand him a beer, and then another, and then another and maybe by the 10th one he’ll finally forget what just happened in his life. That makes for great adjustment back in to life. I’ve seen first hand what PTSD can do to trauma survivors and beer is the last fucking thing they need. That is so obvious to me and I can’t see how anyone could think the two are connected in any positive way.

    You definitely understood my disgust even better than I. The outright disregard for reality, exploitation of the troops and the subliminal messages of a product with soldiers in the background is unacceptable. It’s greed masked with touchy feely bull shit.

    Great post! So glad you shared your point of view. And congrats of being Freshly Pressed.

  41. I have mixed emotions about the opinion expressed. While I can see the exploitation argument, I feel like maybe we’ve missed the point, or perhaps a point that can be made after our hackles have gone down.

    Sure, Budweiser created an advertisement to evoke emotion, perhaps with fingers crossed that it would boost their sales. Sure, corporate America strikes again, directing how we feel and what we deem to be meaningful. It’s frustrating to think for some this ad will result in an increased consumption of a particular beer product.

    But maybe, just maybe, it brings the idea of supporting troops and their families to a platform and audience that would never have given it a second thought. If a beer commercial, otherwise intended to boost sales, boosts awareness and promotes more conscious behaviour, can we really denounce it?

    Let’s give our fellow citizens more credit.

  42. Thank you for this blog & all those that commented. Thank you as well to all of you that have & are serving & families sacrificing along side them. I can’t thank you enough for my freedom & that of my children. My 2 boys have expressed interest in the military but my youngest (12)more so as he daily wears the dog tags once worn by his Grandfather aboard the USS Enterprise. With that said I have to admit I’m embarrassed that I sat teary eyed watching this commercial, I didn’t get past the idea of how much money was spent in that commercial. They could have easily given that money to a fund to help veterans coming home or any number of funds that contribute to the needs of the military on active duty. In order to get their publicity all they had to do was leak to the media the simple piece of info that they chose to do that instead of wasting $ on a 2nd commercial. Why did they need 2? I don’t drink beer but I’ve always liked their commercials, now I’m just annoyed. Thank you for the perspective.

    • I agree. I felt much the same when I watched this commercial. It seems to me that the money could have been better spent if Budweiser really had veterans best interests at heart. Many vets do not need a parade and a commercial as much as help with real physical and mental health issues. With alcohol so much a problem for so many returning vets, I think that might be the least they could do.

  43. Nothing about that commercial made me want to drink beer. In fact I didn’t even watch the game nor did I see the ad during it.

    I found the “ad” on YouTube but what I found was a 5 min video talking to Vets from Vietnam who where thankful for this because they where never honored and their friends that didn’t make it back where forgotten. What I saw was men who saw way worse wars then current generations tearing up. If any “exploiting the military ad” should be found offensive it should be the axe “peace” ad where they are using military ppl in time square and the slogan “make love, not war” which was created as a anti-military/war term that is now getting military men and women’s pics plastered all over it.

  44. Pingback: Budweiser Hangover | Carrying the Gun

  45. The girl on the run

    I love you Blog. It is written so well. I am new to blogging and would love feedback from you, please feel free to leave your views behind‎

  46. Could not agree with you more. I am not, nor have I ever served in the military. It would be one thing if Budweiser had an ad demonstrating how they were contributing to programs like Boots to Business, EVB or V-Wise, that would be one thing. But to simply hoist up one service member to demonstrate how much Budweiser supports our troops came off very self serving.

  47. Reblogged this on The Alpha Alpha and commented:
    Some of you have asked me where to find good writing on veteran’s issues, and this blog is one. Don Gomez does an impassioned write up, and a better job than I could, on how marketing exploits our ideas about veterans and patriotism.

  48. Pingback: Last night’s Budweiser ad “A Hero’s Welcome” was exploitative and offensive | The Alpha Alpha

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  52. Pingback: Superbowl Fail: Why we hated the Budweiser commercial |

  53. I am a vet..and I do not drink…but here in Florida in the general area, people were, and are, proud to be part of any homecoming…any branch…and service member…I actually feel sorry for them now…for his homecoming will always be remembered as that exploitative AD! People talk about advertizing like it should be perfect…it is a business. I love the Bud commercials…always have…love the Clydes…a lot! So they way it is being portrayed as complete exploitation angers me…they do have plants still in America….

    • Thank you for your service. I agree. I’m always happy to welcome home and thank any of our troops. I’m a wife of a service member. And this blog is disrespectful. All them saying “why didn’t bud give money to a organization” how do they know if they did or didn’t. As well as who are they to talk? Are they taking money out of their pockets to give to helping vets? Any ways my rant is done. Thank you again!

  54. Pingback: Lieutenants and Budweiser and TV Ads | Fear and Loathing in the Infantry

  55. While I’m happy that these “homecomings” and “salute to troops” things are everywhere and gaining awareness, I will agree that using it as an ad is exploitative. At least, as you said, Budweiser gave 1LT Nadd a nice welcome home and donates much of their profits to military organizations. They do good, and I’m glad they did it (the welcoming part), but I’m with you in that I think companies/organizations shouldn’t turn it into a bragging point, especially not through mass media, because altruism shouldn’t boast.

  56. Pingback: It’s All About Percieving “Your” Actions | Wandering Gypsy Spirit

  57. Congrats on making Freshly Pressed! Just saw tonight — I really liked what you had to say. There is a fine line in marketing/advertising, and when corporations cross it, they know what they are doing. Great perspective.

  58. Reblogged this on Retiring Hippie Travelers and commented:
    I did what everyone else did when I read your blog. After watching the commercial, I said to my husband “that’s nice, I don’t see anything wrong with that.” Then I read your article, and I agree with you. It is exploitative. Budweiser is just using it to make money. I understand that because they are in a business and that’s what they do. I do hope that some of the profits of the commercial are going to a charity of some sort for the military. Then It wouldn’t make this so bad.

  59. very well work done…keep going…i liked it…its nice…as am a new blogger in this world and i wrote just 1 blog (story) ( and unable to find my viewer as like you, can u please help me by reading my 1st blog what wrong with my writing…is really something wrong with my writing or am just expecting too early…your helpful comments will really inspire me… and please follow me…

  60. Pingback: Three Years of Carrying the Gun | Carrying the Gun

  61. I’m afraid your commentary sounds sadly cynical. I agree, Budweiser must implicitly wish to sell more beer as a result of its advertisement but it is also supporting the return of our troops as well as performing a community service by, figuratively supporting all military veterans; not every hometown will or can support the troops by providing a “heroes” welcome home parade. Moreover, as in all wars, there have been many casualties that have caused personal anxiety and this aspect was not dwelt on, thankfully.

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