Budweiser Unveils Anomaly’s Full Big Game Ad, ‘Born the Hard Way’

By Erik Oster 

This morning Budweiser debuted Anomaly New York’s third consecutive big game ad for the brand, “Born the Hard Way.”

Despite retaining the “Hard Way” moniker from its predecessors, the new 60-second spot is actually quite a departure. While “Brewed the Hard Way” and “Not Backing Down” celebrated the beer as “proudly macro,” mocking smaller breweries even as parent company A-B InBev proceeded to gobble them up, this year’s spot is a (fictionalized) origin story.

Since the man at the center of the tale, Adolphus Busch, was an immigrant from Germany who landed in St. Louis in 1857, it also sees the brand addressing immigration and multiculturalism. Busch faces a series of difficulties in the spot, from a perilous journey to the country to anti-German persecution upon his arrival. Finally he’s greeted by a “Welcome to St. Louis” and decides to head to the local bar, where a friendly patron (who turns out to be Eberhard Anheuser) offers to buy him a beer.
While Anomaly took many liberties with the origin story itself, the agency and director Chris Sargent went through painstaking efforts to make the spot look authentic, which should help viewers suspend disbelief and get lost in the ad.

“If you miss those little beats [of historical accuracy], you lose authenticity,” Anomaly global CCO Mike Byrne told Adweek. “That’s where period pieces get destroyed, because people don’t give a shit enough, they don’t go the extra mile. It’s lazy.”

Unfortunately, the ending of the spot, which shows Busch’s sketch of a Budweiser bottle, takes the fictionalization of the origin story over-the-top and destroys that suspension of disbelief.

“Born the Hard Way” is still a friendly reminder that even something as “American” as drinking a beer was the result of the spread of immigrant cultures, as German immigrants’ fondness for the beverage helped spread its popularity and shape the kind of beer Americans drank. While not directly political, the ad’s message, and its relation to current American politics, will not be lost on many viewers. Still, Budweiser vice president, marketing Ricardo Marques claims the brand is not making a political statement.

“There’s really no correlation with anything else that’s happening in the country,” he told Adweek.

Isn’t there, though? Everything is political now whether you or your clients happen to like it or not.

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