At some point during Super Bowl LI on Sunday, Anheuser-Busch will run an ad that tells the story of a man fulfilling his American dream in spite of the anti-immigrant sentiment he faced along the way.
In the ad, which was released online Tuesday, a German immigrant arrives by boat in the U.S., where he is told, “You’re not wanted here. Go back home.” In spite of the xenophobia, he continues on, finally arriving in St. Louis where he tells a man of his dream of starting an American brewing company.
The story, you probably guessed, is the story of the company’s co-founder, Adolphus Busch, who journeyed as a young man from Germany to St. Louis in 1857. One of more than 20 siblings, Busch went to the U.S. to try and make a life for himself, believing he would not be obtain enough of his wealthy parents’ fortune.
The ad comes just days after President Trump signed an executive order that temporarily banned refugees and people from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the country, and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees.
In light of the ban, it seems that Anheuser-Busch is trying to do what it can to avoid becoming antagonizing either side of the political fray. In a statement provided to The Huffington Post, the company emphasized that the idea had been in development for a year ― well before President Donald Trump’s election last November ― and that it was simply meant to celebrate an American success story.
“We created the Budweiser commercial to highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream,” the company said in a statement.
Ricardo Marques, an executive for the Budweiser brand in the U.S., similarly said in an earlier interview with AdWeek that while the story of Busch’s journey is “a universal story that is very relevant today,” it had “no correlation with anything else that’s happening in the country.”
Notably, the final cut of the ad also appears to depict less virulent xenophobia than an earlier version of the ad seen by AdWeek, in which one person says, “Go back to where you came from!” and Busch actually gets spat on.
But regardless of what Anheuser-Busch says and does from here on out, it’s hard to ignore the political relevance of a Super Bowl ad in 2017 that depicts an American immigrant overcoming xenophobia to achieve success in the U.S.
Anti-German sentiment was even on the rise when Busch arrived in the U.S. in 1857. Many Germans left their to pursue a better economic lot in life ― as Busch did ― but some were political refugees, too, most famously a group known as the The Forty-Eighters, who left Germany after a failed fight to unify Germany.
All told, more than five million Germans traveled to the U.S. during the 19th century in hopes of a better life, leading to anger and resentment among many U.S. citizens, who harbored that resentment for many years to come.
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