The Emblem on Parade

The Black Horse emblem, a black Percheron, was omnipresent in print ads and on signs. But it was more than just a two-dimensional image. In statuette form it was a promotional item in taverns, hotels, trade shows, grocery stores and National Breweries employee offices, as seen in the collection section.

And in the flesh the Percherons were alive and well. Bred by Black Horse Brewery, they were used to deliver beer until around 1930. They appeared at agricultural fairs in Quebec, elsewhere in Canada and in the United States, all excellent opportunities to promote the brewery and its star beer. The show champions Captivator, Rookwood Granite, Leo Magnus II and Delbert were beloved by the public. Making deliveries or competing at horse shows, the Black Horse Percherons caught the eye of potential consumers and enhanced the corporate image. It was an unusual strategy, but parading the emblem turned these horses into living, breathing ads.

In the late 1940s, the brewery’s directors declared, “These superb Percheron stallions … are still an excellent advertising medium for Black Horse Brewery products.” Readied to parade and sometimes with their grooms, the star horses were pictured in advertising material and written up in promotional articles for newsstand publications and the National Breweries in-house magazine. Applauding the horses’ victories and inviting the public to visit the stables were an integral part of the corporate communication strategy. Over time, the emblem went from being an anonymous black horse to being embodied by Percherons well-known to the public and called by their names.