Budweiser is not necessarily known as a purveyor of progressive politics. But an early release of Anheuser-Busch’s newest Super Bowl ad for their popular Budweiser beer presents viewers with a decidedly pro-immigrant story at a time when immigration has become a political flashpoint.
The ad, which is entitled “Born the Hard Way,” depicts the arrival of German immigrant Adolphus Busch to the United States, and the xenophobic sentiment he overcame before founding one of the most successful and global brands of all time.
“You’re not wanted here,” Busch is told upon his arrival on the American continent in 1857. “Go back home.”
Busch, undeterred by the widespread antipathy directed against him (and myriad other challenges), makes his way to St. Louis, where he meets Eberhard Anheuser and Budweiser is born.
Production on the ad began well before Donald Trump’s executive order banning certain immigrants and refugees from entering the country, according to Anheuser-Busch spokesperson Ricardo Marques.
“This commercial shows the start of Budweiser's journey, and while it is set in the 1800's, it's a story we believe will resonate with today's entrepreneurial generation — those who continue strive for their dreams,” he said.
Like Budweiser, many of the most popular US brands and most powerful companies were started by immigrants, including Google, Comcast, and Kraft Foods.
A 2011 report revealed that immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies were responsible for 3.6 million jobs worldwide.
Despite distancing itself from the political debate over immigration, Budweiser’s ad is, by nature, a clear repudiation of Trump’s policies.
The ad could prove a risky move for a brand that appeals largely to red America: Budweiser is one of the best selling beers in the United States, especially in states that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. According to an infographic first published in Business Insider, Bud Light is the beer of choice in 11 states — all of which voted for Trump in 2016: including Texas, both Dakotas, and Michigan.
That the same company that renamed its signature beer simply “America” this past summer is now opaquely highlighting immigrant stories is a welcome change, and could foreshadow a spate of socially-conscious Super Bowl ads this year.