The Horse: A Powerful Symbol in Marketing

by Matt

Horses have been used as a symbol of power, beauty, and nobility for many centuries. They have been depicted in ancient art forms and have inspired creative souls long before the notion of marketing existed. Today, the horse is considered a staple in various brand marketing strategies and commercials; a trend seen across many industries around the world. From fashion, lifestyle, luxury goods, and even financial services, horses have forged a place in marketing for brands to appeal as trustworthy and powerful allies to their target audience.

The Automobile Industry & Horses:

Some of the most recognizable car brands in the world have traditionally used a horse as a representation of their values and ideology. Symbolizing power and speed, many brands in the sports car industry, including Ferrari, Porsche, and Ford Mustang, have incorporated a horse in their logo and overall marketing strategy. The relationship between horses and automobile engines goes back to the late 18th century, when the concept of “horsepower” was invented as a unit of measurement of power. The inventor, James Watt, coined the term to introduce the new car engine technology and appeal to a more skeptical crowd who traditionally only relied on horses for labor. Comparing the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses, Watt established a formula for mechanical horsepower (hp) that is still used to this day.

A few decades down the line, horses still have a significant relevance in sports car marketing and are often seen in commercials. For example, Porsche’s logo depicts a rearing black horse on the Stuttgart coat of arms, where the very first production model was made. When Porsche launched its very first electric vehicle in 2020, the new model name “Taycan” was selected. This term of Turkish origin loosely translates to ‘Soul of a Spirited Young Horse’, alluding to the qualities of an elegant, free-spirited and powerful electric vehicle.

Fashion, Lifestyle, and Horses:

Some of the most successful lifestyle commercials have famously involved horses. Who can forget the adorable puppy and Clydesdale friendship commercials which melted the heart of a nation during the 2015 Superbowl? Budweiser’s tradition dates back to 1933, when 6 Clydesdales were harnessed to a carriage to deliver a beer wagon to former New York governor Al Smith, celebrating the repeal of prohibition. Realizing the promotional potential of Clydesdales, they carried on their journey across the East Coast and delivered a case of beer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This ‘publicity stunt’ marked the beginning of a long and popular tradition, which would later include the admired Budweiser Clydesdales team in many commercials.

Similarly to lifestyle marketing, fashion portrays a way of life that a target audience aspires to. The iconic Polo Pony logo has been one of the most well-known style emblems and continues to be a staple in fashion. CEO and Founder Ralph Lauren once explained: “To me, the polo player has elegance and imagination. It embodies sophisticated luxury and a timeless style.”

Other famous commercials have portrayed horses as a token of freedom and aspiration. In 2019, Lancôme launched their new fragrance “Idôle”. The commercial features actress Zendaya riding a white horse through the busy streets of downtown Los Angeles. In the background, the song “Unstoppable” by SIA adds to a sense of fantasy, freedom, and female empowerment. Similarly, last year, Burberry released their new fragrance for men called “Hero”, featuring American actor Adam Driver swimming with a horse out in the ocean, transforming into a centaur, breaking down traditional stereotypes and reflecting modern day masculinity.

With their ability to captivate and awaken our deepest desires, horses in commercials allow us to dive into a world of fantasy, offering a glimpse of freedom and power. Many companies have successfully capitalized on this fascination, and will continue using this symbol to represent a brand’s image for many years to come.

Post Image Source: Porsche Newsroom

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