retail news in context, analysis with attitude


by Kevin Coupe

Anheuser-Busch InBev has produced a Super Bowl commercial for its Budweiser brand, which also can be seen on YouTube and at left, with implications that could plunge it right into the middle of the ongoing immigration debate.

Called "Born The Hard Way," the minute-long commercial gives us a glimpse of the arrival of Adolphus Busch in the US from Germany in 1857. At one point, Busch is accosted by people - presumably Americans who themselves must've been the descendants of immigrants - who shout, “You’re not wanted here,” and “Go back home.” (He gets a lot warmer welcome when he arrives in St. Louis.)

The Los Angeles Times notes that the commercial was first conceived in early 2016, and shot last October - before the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. The Times also notes that "the commercial has racked up more than 2.6 million views on YouTube ... It has drawn a lot of attention, with some hailing the pro-immigrant storyline and others decrying it."

Count me among the people hailing it. I think it is good to be reminded of the kinds of contributions that immigrants and the children of immigrants make to our country - in science, technology, culture, arts, athletics, food, wine, and yes, beer.

Of course, one marketing professor - Russell S. Winer, of the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business - suggests that most Americans “will like the ad, as they don't think of immigrants from Europe the same way as immigrants from Africa or Muslim countries in the Middle East."

That may not stop some people from criticizing the ad, which is made by a company based in Belgium for a beer brand that has its roots in Germany. But then again, those people probably have forgotten that they are the descendants of immigrants as well.

Enjoy the commercial. In its own way, it is an Eye-Opener.

KC's View: