Super Bowl ad about German immigrant stirs controversy | News | DW | 07.02.2017
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Super Bowl ad about German immigrant stirs controversy

Budweiser's spot about its German immigrant founders has been decried by Trump supporters as being too political. Others, however, have praised the brewer for its message at a time of divisive immigration rhetoric.

"Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion?" asked Benjamin Franklin in 1751, also considering the new wave of German immigrants not white, but rather "swarthy" and "the most ignorant stupid sort of their own nation."

Watch video 01:35

Controversial commercials

The proper nouns may be different today, but the language is older than the United States. This is why, perhaps, Anheuser-Busch InBev decided to use the tale of its immigrant founders in this year's Super Bowl advertisement for its Budweiser beer brand. And despite the call to "#boycottBudweiser" from angry supporters of President Donald Trump on social media, the beverage company insists the spot was planned long before election day.

The ad tells the story (with some poetic license) of a young Adolphus Busch immigrating to the United States in the 1850s and meeting his future business partner and father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser.

"You're not wanted here, go back home!" the 18-year-old Busch is told. While it's impossible to know if the young brewer did have such an experience upon arrival, many of his fellow countrymen certainly did. Xenophobia was rife in the US in the 1850s, and German habits like regular beer-drinking were viewed with suspicion in a culture still in touch with its teetotaling Puritan roots.

Indeed, even after Busch became a US citizen and one of the most successful brewers in the country, the anti-immigrant indignities for the family did not end. According to NPR, Busch's wife Lily was accused of being a spy after visiting family during World War I and was forced to undergo a full-body exam to prove she wasn't carrying secret documents.


Even if Anheuser-Busch's intentions were, as they have said, to honor the "pursuit of the American dream," there is no denying the similarities between the ad and the xenophobia stirred up by the Trump campaign. Long before his executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, Trump's first major campaign speech featured the now-famous soundbite about Mexican immigrants in which he declared that they "are bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."

Trump's backers saw the connection too and took to Twitter to chastise Budweiser for making their Super Bowl spot too political.

However, many others have praised the beer manufacturer for what they saw as its positive message about immigration and hard work.

The ad is set to premier on US television during Sunday's 51st Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

Watch video 02:51

@dwnews - Budweiser commercial causes stir on social media


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