Super Bowl ads tend to come in two forms: the funny/shocking and the serious/tear-jerking. Clearly, Anheuser-Busch’s 60-second spot entitled “Born the Hard Way,” which is already being previewed on the web, falls into the latter category. The cinematic commercial dramatically follows the path of Adolphus Busch’s travels from Germany to St Louis back in 1857, string-driven score and all. But though the ad manages to hit all the right notes (in a Titanic sort of way), the Super Bowl spot seems to be imbued, intentionally or not, with even more meaning thanks to the recent fervor surrounding President Trump’s travel ban for 7 countries.
“Born the Hard Way” focuses on the difficulty of Busch’s immigration to the States, and part of that is the xenophobia he faces along the way. And it isn’t subtle. The ad literally opens with the phrase, “You don’t look like you’re from around here.” About 15 seconds in, moments after getting his immigration papers stamped, Busch is immediately shoved, with someone yelling, “You’re not wanted here. Go back home!”
Interestingly, if the beer brand was trying garner attention by touching on a topic that has become increasingly controversial all over the world in the last year or two, it’s keeping a low profile about it. In spot’s press release, issued today, Budweiser Vice President Ricardo Marques wrote, “This commercial shows the start of Budweiser’s journey, and while it is set in the 1800's, it's a story we believe will resonate with today's entrepreneurial generation - those who continue strive for their dreams.” It definitely seems like it will resonate with people, though I’m not sure if I’d limit it to the “entrepreneurial.”
As of publishing time, Anheuser-Busch hadn’t responded to our request for a comment on how the brand felt the commercial would resonate when taking into account more current events. Though frankly, I don’t think the brand needs to say much. It’s not like the ad was released before the President’s executive order; A-B had a few days to pull the spot if that’s the direction the company wanted to choose.
Instead, what we’ve got is a surprisingly thought-provoking Super Bowl beer ad. What is America becoming?! It’s enough to make you pine for the days of a guy playing life-size Pac-Man.