UT graduate behind memorable Super Bowl ads

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - All it takes is a puppy, a horse and some creative magic. And, for about a minute, you forget you're watching a commercial at all.

If you laughed when you saw the Clydesdale befriend the puppy or cried when one of them got separated, you have Johnny Dantonio to thank.

"I've written the last three Budweiser commercials. There was one called 'Brotherhood', then following it was 'Puppy Love', and then 'Lost Dog'," says Dantonio.

Dantonio is a creative director at a global advertising agency called Anomaly. Before he was churning out Super Bowl commercial classics in the 'Big Apple', he was getting his start at the 'Big Orange'.

"I was an English major with a concentration in writing," says Dantonio.

While studying at the University of Tennessee, Dantonio learned skills that he says helped to get him where he is today.

"I think, in particular, the creative writing classes forced me to stand up and present my work," he says.

That hard work would eventually lead him to where he is now.

"The Clydesdale has always been a favorite of Americans, period. I think what we did is put a more narrative story to that tradition. So, we just added a different approach to something that has already been widely successful," says Dantonio.

He continued that trend of success. His ads in 2013, 2014, and 2015 won 'Best Super Bowl Commercial' for three consecutive years, according to a USA Today poll.

"I don't think we expected it to be as successful as it was and we were kind of blown away," he says.

This year, Dantonio doesn't have an ad running during the game. But, that doesn't mean he won't be watching.

"I'm rooting for Peyton and the Broncos. It would be a fantastic way to close out a career that was started in Knoxville," he says.