Budweiser is usually known for its adorable commercials about golden retrievers and clydesdale horses, but this year they're going in a different — and very political — direction. The company says it's just a coincidence.
The beer company's 2017 Super Bowl ad focuses on one extremely hot-button issue: Immigration. The commercial, set in the 1800s and titled "Born the Hard Way," tells the story of Adolphus Busch, Budweiser's co-founder, as he emigrates to the U.S. from Germany.
When Busch finally reaches the United States' shores, he's greeted with discriminatory comments about his German heritage. Viewers can hear Americans telling the immigrant, "Go back home," and, "You're not wanted here."
The ad follows President Donald Trump's executive order placing a 120-day moratorium on the U.S. refugee resettlement program and a 90-day freeze on entry into the country from seven Muslim-majority nations earmarked by former President Barack Obama's administration.
There have been widespread protests at airports across the U.S. and Obama, in his first post-presidential reaction to Trump, has expressed his disapproval of the order.
Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing for Budweiser, told Adweek the commercial is "super relevant," given Trump's actions regarding immigration:
It’s true, Adolphus Busch made an incredible journey to this country, and that’s really what this is about. It’s about his vision, his dream, everything that he does to achieve that. Even though it happened in the 1850s, it’s a story that is super relevant today. That’s what we’re honing in on; it’s the pursuit, the effort, the passion, the drive, the hard work, the ambition — that’s really what this is about more than anything else.
However, Marques said it is just a coincidence the ad has debuted on the heels of the president's decision to freeze the U.S.'s refugee program and temporarily ban immigration from several countries.
"There’s really no correlation with anything else that’s happening in the country," he said. "We believe this is a universal story that is very relevant today because, probably more than any other period in history, today the world pulls you in different directions, and it’s never been harder to stick to your guns."
And Mike Bryne, the chief creative officer for Anomaly, the ad agency that made the commercial, told CNN that Budweiser approached them about creating an advertisement that "celebrate[d] those who embody the American spirit."
Even if the commercial is in no way a response to Trump's hardline immigration policies, this Super Bowl ad would not be Budweiser's first foray into political posturing.
Bud Light, a brand under the Budweiser umbrella, pulled an ad series featuring comedian Amy Schumer, who is outspoken about her progressive opinions, and actor Seth Rogan following abysmal ratings. One of the 30-second spots was titled "Labels" and pedaled the idea that there are more than two sexes, a popular narrative advanced by many in the LGBT community.
The new 60-second Budweiser ad will air on Fox during the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.