In a dramatic twist of timing, the iconic American beer brand Budweiser is set to unspool an ad about immigration before an audience of millions of football fans this Sunday during the Super Bowl.
The ad portrays the story of Budweiser founder Adolphus Busch, a German citizen who persevered despite experiencing prejudice after immigrating to the U.S.
The ad has apparently been in the works for a year. So it’s not a direct response to the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, which touched off a firestorm of criticism in the U.S. and beyond. But Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric during the 2016 campaign most likely influenced the company to push-back, especially considering that Budweiser recently became part of a the multinational brewing company AB-InBev.
Immigration and ambition
Budweiser is positioning the immigration spot as a story about ambition, the company told AdWeek. AdWeek cites Marcel Marcondes, VP of U.S. marketing for the brand’s parent, Anheuser-Busch:
“For Budweiser, the company wanted to ‘celebrate ambition’ by going back to its roots and telling the story of its co-founder, Adolphus Busch, and how he came from Germany to the United States in 1857 with the dream of founding Budweiser,” wrote Kristina Monllos of AdWeek.
“Celebrating the American Dream is part of why the company is ‘comfortable putting America on our label,’ added Marcondes, who said the company plans to put America on its label again this year.”
The ad doesn’t dwell on immigration issues throughout, but it does include an early sequence that portrays the wall of insults and physical violence that Busch encountered upon arrival in the U.S.
It’s a compelling story, and Budweiser didn’t cut corners. The creative force behind the ad is Anomaly, the agency behind the 2014 Budweiser “Puppy Love” spot, which owns bragging rights to the most YouTube views of any Super Bowl ad since 2007.
Immigration and AB-InBev
Here’s where it gets interesting. The immigration issue is a particularly sensitive one for Budweiser as part of AB-InBev. The company was formed in 2008 when Budweiser’s parent, Anheuser-Busch, combined with the global brewing leader InBev.
The merger formed the world’s largest brewing company, with operations and brands based around the world.
AB-InBev also embraces the United Nations’ principles on human rights.
Here’s the money quote on human rights from AB-InBev:
“We are committed to business practices that do not infringe on human rights and that align with various international standards of responsible business conduct, including the United Nations (U.N.) Global Compact, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
“Our Global Human Rights Policy sets out standards, expectations and commitments in relation to our responsibility to respect human rights within our own company and to not knowingly contribute to the violations of human rights by other parties.”
AB-InBev also broadly expresses its outlook in a “who we are” statement:
“… We are committed to driving growth and building a company to last – not just for a decade, but for the next 100 years. And we are excited to work toward our Dream: Bringing people together for a better world.”
AdWeek also noted that the Budweiser spot is one of several planned for Anheuser-Busch brands during the Super Bowl.
Complementing the immigration spot’s underlying theme of a connected world, Anheuser-Busch is also using the occasion to roll out a new slogan for Bud Light, “Famous among friends,” that focuses on the small moments between ordinary people.
Your move, President Trump (er, Steve Bannon).
Image (screenshot): Budweiser Superbowl ad via YouTube.