Messages are stickier when they exist as a story. Stories are most successful when the product is integral and it is difficult to tell the story without mentioning the product.
In this story, Budweiser relies heavily on the association between their brand and their mascot, the Clydesdale horse. The horse acts as a memory trigger because it has been used in a large number of previous Budweiser commercials and consumers are familiar with the connection.
Although Budweiser was not prominently displayed in physical product or in name until the end of the commercial, the message was still sticky because of this association.
Could this story be re-told without mentioning Budweiser beer? Possibly. It would be difficult, however, to tell the story without mentioning the Clydesdale horse, which effectively connects to Budweiser in the consumers mind.
It is important to note that Budweiser has invested millions of dollars in creating this association. Without this previous effort, this ad would be much less successful.
Takeaway: Not everyone has the time or money to create an existing association. Instead, create a sticky message by creating a story where the product itself is essential to viewer understanding of the ad.
Want more? Check out the rest of the Heath’s principles of stickiness in Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.