President Trump’s recent executive orders have dragged America’s ongoing immigration debate to the forefront of the national consciousness again, and the issue will not fade any time soon. Now an unlikely source has added its voice to the debate: the Anheuser-Busch Company, makers of Budweiser beer. In a new ad set to air during Sunday’s Super Bowl, Budweiser is taking a strikingly pro-immigrant position.
The ad, titled “Born the Hard Way,” tells the story of Adolphus Busch, who left Germany for St. Louis in 1857. Busch would go on to found Anheuser-Busch, which began selling Budweiser in 1876. Busch was the first brewer to pasteurize beer for freshness, and the first to use refrigeration to store and ship beer, which helped make Budweiser the first national brand of beer in America.
However, the ad is less concerned with Busch’s innovations in beer-making than what he went through to reach America. He suffers a terrible ocean crossing, slogs through mud and rain, flees a burning riverboat wreck, and faces down discrimination as he’s told “You’re not wanted here” and “You don’t look like you’re from around here.” Through it all, he scribbles ideas and sketches in a notebook that will become the basis of the mighty Budweiser empire. It’s easy to trace an analogy between Busch’s story and what today’s immigrants continue to face as they come to America.
When Budweiser took the unusual step of releasing the ad six days before the Super Bowl, reaction was swift. Many questioned why a beer company that’s better known for celebrating all-Americanism was taking a potentially controversial stance. For its part, Budweiser has denied that the ad was meant as a comment on the current immigration debate. Spokesman Marcel Marcondes, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of marketing, said, “It’s an idea we’ve been developing along with our creative agency for nearly a year.” In a news release, the company added that it hopes the ad will “resonate with today’s entrepreneurial generation.”