60 Second Ad Plot Point Breakdown

Using the Budweiser Super Bowl Puppy Commercial 2015 as an example.

Why does everyone love this Budweiser puppy ad? Super story structure that touches on all the right emotional notes.  Basic plot points are like story fractals that appear in every level of the structure. The same plot points that form the basis for feature film, also work for short films, and scenes too.

 (1) Hook. Puppy farm sign. Shots of cute little Golden Retriever puppies running around. People are shown taking puppies away in the background. One puppy protagonist sneaks under a fence running away! Dogs and cats get some of the highest views on YouTube. Everyone loves puppies! Where is this puppy going? (0-7 seconds)

(2) Inciting Incident. Puppy goes into barn. Puppy makes friends with a big Clydesdale horse in his stall putting his paw up and licking the horse on the nose that seems to like him too. (8-14 seconds)

(3) Setup. Puppy is chasing his tail by his new horse friend playing.  Barn worker comes in and picks up puppy. Dog looks back at horse sad. Takes puppy back to lady puppy master to be put back with other puppies. Puppy is being setup to have deep friendship with this horse. (15-24 seconds)

(4) Journey Into Unknown. Puppy crawls through male barn workers feet to get to horse in the rain at night. Man takes puppy back to lady at puppy farm next door. (25-29 seconds)

(5) Investigation. Lady follows puppy and finds where it is escaping. (30 -32 seconds)

(Strange mans gives lady money. Puppy is put into stranger’s car and looks sad. Puppy just got sold and is leaving his farm. Door closes on puppy in sad blue car. Oh no! (33 – 34 seconds)

 (7) Final Confrontation. Car door slamming alerts horse friend grazing in pasture that snorts and lifts his head up looking towards the car with the puppy. Car drives away down road. Puppy perches in window and howls at horse as he is being driven away. Horse runs to the left, and jumps a fence, while dog barks like he is happy watching from window. (35-41 seconds)

(8) Climax. Horse friend chases car down drive way. Driver sees horse in rear view mirror. Five other horses suddenly appear running towards car in front (twist). Driver slams on brakes. Car is trapped by horses. (42-47 seconds)

 (9) Resolution. Puppy trots back up road happy with five big horses behind him wagging tail. Puppy plays with horse friend in paddock with lady and barn man watching. Puppy is safe with horse friend forever. (48-58 seconds)

Student filmmakers should study ads for short film ideas. The theme of an ad is to buy the product. How do you sell more beer? Make the mascot a hero in a puppy film!

By Sherri Sheridan from the new book “Filmmaking Script To Screen Step-By-Step”.