Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial an accidental nod to US immigration ban

Budweiser's co-founder was an immigrant from Germany.

Budweiser's co-founder was an immigrant from Germany. Photo: YouTube/Budweiser

Watch the video above to see the full ad

US beer company Budweiser is receiving mixed reactions for its new Super Bowl commercial, which explores the theme of immigration at a time of heated debate on the United States’ border policy.

The ad, titled Born the Hard Way, recounts the journey of Budweiser co-founder Adolphus Busch, who emigrated from Hamburg, Germany, in 1857 to the city of St Louis, Missouri.

One of several big-budget commercials set to air during Sunday’s Super Bowl, Born the Hard Washows Busch struggling through a lengthy, dangerous boat journey and being accosted by an American who yells, “You’re not wanted here, go back home”.

It concludes with Busch sharing a beer with Eberhard Anheuser, Busch’s eventual father-in-law and co-founder of the company Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and the largest beer producer in the world.

Immigration is a hot topic in the US following President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending the refugee program and halting all entries from seven majority-Muslim countries.

The ad immediately rocketed to the top of trending lists on social media thanks to its apparent pro-immigration stance, but left some accusing the beer-maker of capitalising on outrage over the so-called ‘Muslim ban’.

However, the topical nature of the commercial was purely coincidental, according to a statement from Budweiser’s vice-president of marketing, Ricardo Marques.

“There’s really no correlation with anything else that’s happening in the country,” Mr Marques told AdWeek.

“We believe this is a universal story that is very relevant today because probably more than any other period in history, today the world pulls you in different directions, and it’s never been harder to stick to your guns.”

The idea to tell the company’s origin story was actually formulated back in October 2016, before Mr Trump even took office, and was designed to “celebrate those who embody the American spirit”.

It’s worth noting Budweiser is owned by multinational beverage company Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, headquartered in Belgium.

The commercial, filmed in New Orleans, is a slight departure from Budweiser’s previous Super Bowl offerings, which typically feature the brand’s iconic Clydesdale horse with an adorable labrador puppy.

The company’s 2014 commercial, Puppy Love, is one of the most-watched Super Bowl ads of all time.

While the Budweiser ad might be the most talked-about offering of the 2017 Super Bowl, there are several other early-release ads garnering attention for their social commentary, production values or unique themes.

Here are five of the best.

Squarespace – John Malkovich

As the title suggests, this ad for the website-hosting service and blogging platform Squarespace stars Hollywood actor John Malkovich being, well … John Malkovich.

Mercedes Benz – Easy Driver

Directed by legendary duo Joel and Ethan Coen (aka the Coen brothers), this ad for the GT Roadster stars Peter Fonda and pays tribute to his 1969 film, Easy Rider.

Kia – Roadside Assistance

Actor and comedienne Melissa McCarthy stars in a series of teaser ads for the Korean car manufacturer in which she finds herself in a variety of sticky situations.

Skittles – Romance

In this simple but silly commercial, a lovestruck young man throws the rainbow-coloured candy through his girlfriend’s window in an attempt to wake her. However, her family has other ideas.

Snickers – First-ever live commercial

Because the one-upmanship of Super Bowl ads is hard to stay on top of, Snickers came up with an innovative way to stand out from the pack: do a live Super Bowl ad. The chocolate company has released several teasers for the yet-to-be-filmed ad, revealing it will star Star Wars actor Adam Driver and have a Western theme.

Topics: Immigration
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