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Revisiting the moving Budweiser 9/11 commercial that aired just once

On the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a poignant old Budweiser commercial paying tribute to the victims has been resurfaced. But not by the company, Anheuser-Busch, which aired the ad just once.

The emotional ad — which aired months after the national tragedy, during the 2002 Super Bowl that February — showed the Budweiser Clydesdales leaving their Missouri stable and making the trek to New York City. Passing by iconic cityscapes, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the horses stop in Battery Park, amid the changed city skyline, to bow as the Statue of Liberty stood tall in the background.

There were no words, just somber music, for the ad, title “Clydesdale Respect.” And the company’s logo didn’t appear until the very end.

Anheuser-Busch didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment, but the company’s creative team has said a lot of hoops were jumped through to make the ad just two months after the attacks when the city was still on edge. It required approval from many at that unprecedented time, including members of Congress, the ad community and then-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“We filmed in New York City,” Bob Lachky, the former executive vice president of AB Global Creative, said in 2014. “We had a helicopter going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Mayor Giuliani let us into the city. The only film company of any sort right after 9/11 to actually come into air space with our helicopter to film the Clydesdales, the hitch coming into Battery Park and it was amazing … just amazing.”

He recalled the NYPD being “very, very nervous about everything that was going on in the city at that time.”

As for the horses bowing, the GM of Clydesdale operations Jeff Knapper said, “That was not trick TV. They were trained to do that. The horses spent 45 days with our trainer.”

An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told Snopes in 2007 that while the commercial aired just once — and remained up for a year on the company’s website in tribute — they received a “positive response” to it for a long time after. “Anheuser-Busch is proud to be an American beer company and we wanted to express ourselves in respectfully honoring those affected by the events of September 11th. We are pleased that the Budweiser Clydesdales were able to deliver our sentiments in a way that has resonated with many Americans.”

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, in 2011, the company released an updated version of the commercial. At the end of that version, there was a black screen with the words, “We’ll never forget.”

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