Horsin’ Around in Advertising


Remember the toilet paper commercial from a few years ago that had an incredibly adorable puppy bounding around? I feel compelled to buy that toilet paper.


I’ll admit it. I’m probably going to buy something if there’s a dog or a horse on the packaging or in the commercial.

I can’t be the only potential buyer who is swayed by the appeal of animals. The worst part is the product doesn’t even need to have anything to do with the animal. I just love how cute the animal is and am therefore engaged in the advertising. I will listen to the message. Those marketing experts are geniuses.

And since animals are frequently used in advertising, horses are no exception. However, when it comes to horses in advertising, I am a bit picky.

Some companies represent horses in the most majestic, beautiful way, such as the Budweiser Clydesdales. The Budweiser Clydesdales captivate horsey and non-horsey audiences alike, and perhaps that’s why my standard for horses in advertising is set so high.

If you want me to be interested in your product, your horses should appear well groomed, happy and willing. All too often I find myself watching a grumpy horse with a clearly inexperienced rider (actor/actress) attempting to sell me something or coerce me into believing their product is worth my consideration and purchase.

For the non-horseperson, I believe they don’t notice. For the horse enthusiast, this is an egregious error.

Recurring offenses include:

  • Horses with ears pinned back.
  • Horses in improperly fitting tack.
  • Horses with an upside down neck.
  • Horses unrealistically baring their teeth.
  • Horses with incredibly harsh bits being used with forceful hands.

Almost a year ago, I received the JCrew’s November 2013 Style Guide. I love JCrew. In my opinion, their preppy style perfectly compliments my equestrian obsession. And to my surprise, there were horses on the cover! But wait.

J Crew Style Guide


They’re grumpy. They look like they’ve been asked to walk up and down that stretch of grass so many times, they’re completely over it. And the riders? While I could be wrong, I don’t think riding is their main skill. They make the clothes look good, but suddenly I can’t see past the horses.

A different example: The classic Old Spice commercial. I find the commercial itself hilarious – the timing, the actor, the tone of it all, and the fact that all 30 seconds of witty humor is supposed to make me buy a specific scented body wash for a guy. And in the last seconds of the commercial, he’s on a horse!


But wait. That horse looks like he is either sedated or so uninterested in his job, he’s asleep! He actually might be eating a treat. And to top it off, the rider isn’t holding the reins. From the perspective of a horse lover and safety-conscious rider, that’s just wrong.

Now–do my complaints have anything to do with the products? No. But remember-the advertised products have nothing to do with horses.

Maybe the marketing world is still winning. I’m potentially paying even more attention to the product because of the horse-related error. And I’m talking about it.

Liked this article? Here are others that you’ll love:
Horses in Advertising: Historic Fail Edition
Super Bowl Ad Features Clydesdales and Puppy
We Regret the Error

Follow Allison on Twitter at @allisongriest



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