For this year’s super bowl Budweiser decided to take a different approach in their roughly 5-million-dollar commercial time slot. Straying from their usual advertisement tactics of incorporating puppies and horses to appeal to their audience, the marketing team at Budweiser decided to go with a rugged movie trailer like commercial, with their company’s immigrant founder as the star. The ad definitely did its job of drawing in lots of attention as the full length commercial currently has about 28 million views on YouTube, but it may not be for the reason they intended. Budweiser has stirred up quite a bit of controversy with this ads timing since immigration policy is one of the most hotly debated political topics in America.
The sixty second ad starts off with Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch talking at a bar they had just met at. Anheuser says to Busch, “You don’t look like you’re from around here” and the scene quickly transitions to Busch on a boat at the beginning of his journey to America. The action packed trailer-like ad highlights the challenges and hardships Adolphus had to face on his voyage to the United States. This includes receiving stiches above his eye due to the boat rocking in rough waters, dealing with the harsh discrimination of immigrants in America, and even having to abandon a burning ship. All throughout his journey he is seen taking notes in his book for his beer. He finally arrives in Saint Louis where Anheuser buys him a beer and Busch shows him his book and says, “Next time, this is the beer we drink”. The two men then formally introduce each other marking the genesis of Anheuser-Busch.
Budweiser was very careful in strategically placing signs and symbols in their ad to associate their beer with being the drink of those who aren’t afraid to fight for their dreams. Adolphus Busch himself is a prime example of someone living out the classic American dream of migrating from another country with a specific goal in mind and fighting to achieve it. They were also clever in including a scene with Clydesdale horses in the background which would become a popular mascot of Budweisers as we have seen in many other commercials. The target audience for this commercial was probably people between the ages of 21 to 45 and maybe even more directed at men due to the rugged style and tough physical challenges Busch had to face.
This commercial attempts to play on the emotions of the dreamer within everybody. Seeing somebody overcome all of the difficult obstacles Busch ran into on his journey is inspiring and it makes the viewer want to go out and tackle their dreams. Budweiser associates their beer with this feeling and that of people who can get stuff done the hard way, which will make dreamers and rugged go-getters want to drink it.
This ad received a ton of back lash from Trump supporters who claimed the commercial was a piece of liberal propaganda to endorse immigration. The timing of the ad was not ideal as Trump was in the middle of trying to set new immigration policies but Budweiser says they had started the ad way before and it had nothing to do with the current immigration debate. They simply wanted to celebrate their founder and his immigrant heritage while inspiring viewers to chase their dreams.