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Budweiser Super Bowl commercial plunges into (uncomfortable) immigration debate

Budweiser Super Bowl commercial plunges into (uncomfortable) immigration debate
Budweiser's 2017 Super Bowl commercial “Born the Hard Way” is a tribute to Anheuser-Busch's immigrant founder Adolphus Busch.

A minute-long Budweiser Super Bowl commercial that beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev created as a tribute to its immigrant founder has turned out to be more timely — and perhaps more provocative — than the company first envisioned.

The stylized commercial dramatizes Adolphus Busch's arrival in the U.S. from Germany in 1857. At one point early in the commercial, crusty men shout at the young immigrant: "You're not wanted here," and "Go back home."

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The ad, titled "Born the Hard Way," was developed in early 2016 and shot in New Orleans in October — several weeks before the presidential election. On Friday, President Trump issued an order banning entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. Protesters responded by rallying at several U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International Airport.

The commercial was released online this week and will make its television debut Sunday on Fox during the NFL championship match.

"We created the Budweiser commercial to highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream," Marcel Marcondes, vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev, said in a statement.

As the commercial continues, young Busch makes a harrowing trip to St. Louis, where he is warmly embraced.

"This is a story about our heritage and the uncompromising commitment that goes into brewing our beer," Marcondes said. "It's an idea we've been developing along with our creative agency for nearly a year."

The commercial has racked up more than 2.6 million views on YouTube since being posted Tuesday.

It has drawn a lot of attention, with some hailing the pro-immigrant storyline and others decrying it.

The jeers missed the mark, said one expert, who predicted the Budweiser commercial will be well-received Sunday.

"Trump's grandfather immigrated from Germany, so there's a double dose of irony," said Russell S. Winer, a marketing professor at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business. "I think 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."

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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