By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — What’s not to love about a short, sweet story about an adorable puppy reunited with his horse and human friends?
That’s the premise, of course, of the best-loved commercial of the 2015 Super Bowl: Budweiser’s insanely popular “Lost Dog” ad, which has over 26 million views on YouTube alone.
But if you ask SAPE (Students Advocating a Positive Environment), a club at Niskayuna High School, they’ll tell you that one aspect of the commercial is something less than lovable: the fact that a beermaker paid $9 million to put it on the air during one of television’s most heavily watched events.
“It’s kind of scary how people like the Budweiser commercial,” junior Regina Neri said the Wednesday following the Super Bowl.
As they do each year the day after the Super Bowl, club members asked high school students during homeroom period what had been their favorite commercials after the advertising-heavy broadcast. This year, of 276 students in grades nine through 12 who answered the survey, 105 said their favorite commercial was either “Lost Puppy” or “Budweiser.”
“You see it at the end,” after the commercial’s emotionally affective story has already drawn you in, Neri said. “You’re like, ‘Wow, I don’t see how this connects.’ ”
Still, even though the ad had nothing to do with beer except for a quick flash of the brand name at the end, everyone typically remembers who sponsored the spot.
“It attracts people of all ages, not just adults,” Neri added.
Freshman Spencer Legere said he was drawn in by the emotional appeal of the Budweiser ads, not just this year, but several years running.
“The Budweiser ones make it so attractive,” he said. “I would die if my dogs were lost.”
But does an eye-catching and memorable ad really encourage kids to drink, even if the ad’s imagery features horses and puppies rather than beer?
Richard Marine, a member of N-CAP (Niskayuna Community Action Program), led the club during their tallying session after the Super Bowl. He said it’s hard to be sure, so it’s important to be careful.
“I think that when they make commercials that tug at heartstrings, it imprints the commercial and the brand,” he said.
“This is the time when children, including high schoolers, are making decisions that can be good or bad,” he added. He said discussion is important to keep them from bending to media pressure, especially the kind they don’t easily recognize.
Runner-up ad favorites among the high school set were pretty harmless. Clash of Clans, a game app, and Doritos were tied with 34 votes each.