Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Real Story Behind Budweiser's Immigrant Commercial

This Anheuser-Busch commercial, "Born the Hard Way, " ran on Superbowl Sunday.

It didn't fare that well against the flashier commercials, but grows on you. A young immigrant (Adolphus Busch) patiently endures all sorts of hardships and prejudice....only to find a friend (Mr. Anheuser) who has a similar interest in -- of course -- beer!
     "It's true, Adolphus Busch made an incredible journey to this country, and that's really what this is about," Budweiser's VP, Ricardo Marques, told AdWeek. "It's about his vision, his dream, everything that he does to achieve that."

Sounds amazing, doesn't it?  Anheiser-Busch is sinking millions into this ad, as well as the campaign built around it. Great care was taken to make the ad historically accurate, including costumes, fabric, buildings, etc. (Frankly, I was impressed with the costumes -- they're good. Really good.)

But is it true?

The Wikipedia entry of Adolphus Busch (1839-1913) points out several things:

*He was born into a wealthy family that already marketed winery and brewery supplies.

*He had 21 siblings in his German family. (He was the 21st.)

*He graduated from the Collegiate Institute of Belgium in Brussels, and

*Emigrated to St. Louis in 1857, all right -- but with three of his older brothers.

Granted, according to Wikipedia, Busch didn't expect to inherit anything, and planned to stand on his own. He became a clerk, served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and worked in a wholesaling business. When he did inherit money from his father's estate, Busch sank it into a business selling brewery supplies.
     Which sold to Eberhard Anheuser's brewery.

*Anheuser actually sold soap first. He accidentally came into his other business by loaning money to a brewery -- which went bankrupt. Anheuser couldn't lose his investment, so began producing beer. (I'm guessing on this, but Wikipedia implies it. It would make sense.) 

*Adolphus' brother married one of Anheuser's daughters first.
                                    Then, after he began working for Anheuser,
*Adolphus married another of the boss's daughters!

*In 1879, he bought out the partner's share of Anheuser's business -- and renamed it Anheuser-Busch.

*In 1880, after his father-in-law's death, Adolphus became president of the whole shebang.

     Busch had some brilliant ideas for changing the way beer was produced, shipped and marketed:
     *owning all of the businesses for production -- including glass bottling works
                  (something the Coors people also learned from: vertical integration)
     *pasteurizing the beer -- so it kept longer
     *shipping the beer refrigerated -- so it could travel further

The company grew...and grew...and grew.

But rather than living only in his adopted country, Mr. Busch preferred to stay in Germany. He and his wife bought a castle there, where he often traveled. In fact, he died there.

And here's the real kicker:  he never liked beer. 

"...throughout his life, he referred to his beer as 'dot schlop' and preferred wine to drink," says Wikipedia.


An immigrant, yes. Ambitious, you bet, and innovative, too.

But going through the trials the immigrant in the commercial endures? This educated son from a wealthy German family, accompanied by his three older brothers?

At the very least, I doubt he bumped into his future father-in-law at a saloon....and showed him his sketches of beer bottles.

Some interesting types are trying to argue that Anheuser-Busch did this commercial as an anti-Trump response to the President's policies on immigration. 
     The company denies this. For good reason, too, I think. The real truth seems to be more for establishing the working-man's Budweiser as an "antique" or "craft" beer, based on a long tradition of beermaking.
That could well be true, based on Anheuser-Busch's enduring reputation and tradition.

But the commercial? 

Not so sure. 

Does this look like an eager, impoverished German immigrant...who loves beer?

1 comment:

LouAnne Sassone said...

Interesting...and yet I wonder how many were like us here in GA..."we missed the Clydsdales..."