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Friday, January 31, 2014

Budweiser Clydesdales, Old Norse Poetry, and the Superbowl

So you know how Old Norse poetry uses Kennings? So one phrase or expression which may have nothing directly related to a thing would be used to talk about said thing obliquely? So, if you're talking about gold, you might say "Freyja's tears" or "Serpent's Lair" which are derived from stories in the myths relating to gold but you wouldn't know that unless you were already familiar with the stories and the device of using kennings.

Well, this year's Superbowl commercial from Budweiser is a FANTASTIC example of how kennings work. The Clydesdale represents Budweiser, because everyone is familiar with the Budweiser Clydesdales, because that is part of our cultural memory and a distinct piece of the company's branding, even though horses are not really directly related at all to beer today, otherwise. The puppy could be seen as us -- the everyman who enjoys a drink. And the commercial tells us that a Man and his Beer of Choice cannot be parted. That Brand Loyalty matters, and when the going gets tough, Budweiser will come to the rescue.

It is REALLY cool that we can still see these kinds of devices used today -- but also kind of sad that the best place to see them in action is marketing and publicity. EITHER WAY THOUGH. Now you know.

Snorri would be so proud.


  1. Replies
    1. Ha. Thanks! It's kind of fun to spot this kind of stuff in modern usage.

  2. Like "The boat of the dwarves!" Yes! I know ONE Old Norse Kenning! Dwarfs? Dwarvs? #KnowsAKenningButCantSpellit

    1. Ha. um. I think Dwarfs is technically more correct, and the -ves ending in place of -fs is a thing Tolkien created that has since been adopted popularly, but don't quote me. I'm no linguist!

  3. LOL that's a great interpretation of that ad.

    1. It took me until my second or third viewing to realize what they were doing with it, but man. I have to give them credit!


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