I don't know which of you has been giving all the secrets of what makes me cry to Budweiser, but their newest ad is no exception. The Budweiser 2017 Super Bowl commercial takes a hot button issue and makes it into a personal one. Their latest offering will air during Super Bowl LI on Sunday and goes in a slightly different direction from the beer brand's puppy and horse friendships of previous years. Instead, the company's advertisement highlights the journey of immigrants.
It might sound counterintuitive for a brand like Budweiser to be weighing in on a political issue, but, in this case, there are more reasons than you might realize for the brand to have an opinion. Like many of us, the men who started Budweiser, Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch — who combined their names to form Anheuser-Busch — came to this country as immigrants, determined to make the most of the American dream.
In the commercial, you see Busch — played by actor Sam Schweikert — enduring endless obstacles on his way to realize his dream; he's asked why he's leaving Germany, shouldered aggressively in the street, and met with the statement, "You don't look like you're from around here." Finally, at the end of the 60-second spot, someone welcomes him to St. Louis and buys him a beer — and that man was Anheuser.
This all took place over a century ago, of course. That's given Budweiser time to be absorbed so deeply into our culture that they've become as American as apple pie — which is why this reminder is so important in today's political climate.
You might not even have been aware of the beer's German roots until this commercial, but the footage makes clear that that privilege of acceptance has been hard-won; it's titled "Born The Hard Way." The year was 1857 instead of 2017, and these men were from Germany and not Syria, but they were immigrants just the same. For this advertisement to come out during this particular Super Bowl season, when so many are being denied entrance to the country, is touching.
It is important to note, of course, that no one connected with Budweiser has thus far come straight out and acknowledged a connection with Donald Trump's Executive Order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. In fact, the commercial idea predates the order by several months.
In a statement, Anheuser-Busch's Vice President of Marketing said:
Our focus this week is on our Super Bowl ads and our brands. We created the Budweiser commercial to highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream. This is a story about our heritage and the uncompromising commitment that goes into brewing our beer. It’s an idea we’ve been developing along with our creative agency for nearly a year.
However, no matter the intention with the commercial's release, the crucial part is its timing and reception. Yes, it's an advertisement designed to sell beer. But it's also a positive representation of immigration that comes at a time when too much negative rhetoric has been flying around. Whether you like or buy Budweiser or not, I think we can all agree that the "unrelenting pursuit of the American dream" is part of what makes our country so great.