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Budweiser’s Immigration-Themed Super Bowl Commercial Sparks Controversy

Variety logo Variety 2/2/2017 Will Thorne
© Provided by Variety

Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial, centered on an immigrant coming to America, sparked strong reactions following its release on Tuesday in light of President Donald Trump’s recent controversial travel ban. Anheuser-Busch says the ad was not created with political intent.

The commercial, released on YouTube on Tuesday, tells the fictionalized story of Adolphus Busch, one of the founders of Budweiser who emigrated from Germany to the US in 1857.

“You don’t look like you’re from around here,” says a man in a bar to a disheartened looking Busch.

Trump’s executive order signed on Friday, barring admission of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, gives the ad an unexpected extra layer of context and commentary. Several conservative commentators and politicians reacted on Twitter by calling it “heavy-handed” and claiming that it has left “Americans speechless.” The controversy sparked the Twitter hashtag #BoycottBudweiser.

“Dear Budweiser, your immigrant founder came here to make beer, not bombs (so spare me the heavy handed ad),” tweeted “Clueless” actress-turned-conservative commentator Stacey Dash.

Former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin also weighed in on the matter.

“Budweiser Debuts Super Bowl Ad, and Its Politically Charged Message Has Americans Speechless,” Palin tweeted, linking to a conservative website.

However, representatives for Anheuser-Busch attempted to shut down political speculation by saying that the commercial was only intended to be about Busch’s ambition and entrepreneurial spirits, rather than commentary on the president’s immigration policies.

“We created the Budweiser commercial to highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream,” said Anheuser-Busch InBev marketing VP Marcel Marcondes in a statement. “This is a story about our heritage and the uncompromising commitment that goes into brewing our beer.”

The commercial also depicts Busch’s perilous seas voyage across the Atlantic ocean and a fire on-board a river boat. Through it all, Busch holds on to his schemes and his dreams to one day found a brewing company.

Upon arrival in America, Busch is greeted by an angry mob shouting “You’re not wanted here, go back home.” However, his luck and the attitude of the locals change when he arrives in St. Louis and a bar patron offers him a beer.

The friendly gentleman turns out to be Eberhard Anheuser, who co-founded the brewing company with Busch.

Watch the commercial below:

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