The company that makes Budweiser — the popular brew that rebranded itself as “America” last summer — appears to be wading into the nation’s immigration debate in the wake of President Trump’s travel ban last week.
Anheuser-Busch InBev on Wednesday released a 60-second Super Bowl commercial focused on the company’s founder, German immigrant Adolphus Busch. The ad follows Busch as he travels from his native country to St. Louis, where he fatefully meets his future father-in-law Eberhard Anheuser — also German-born, and the eventual co-founder of the iconic brewing company.
The ad includes dialogue such as, “You don’t look like you’re from around here” and “Go back home,” while showing a journey fraught with struggles, echoing the challenges faced by refugees and immigrants today.
At the end of the ad, Anheuser orders a beer for Busch, calling him “my friend,” marking the start of a relationship that eventually leads to the creation of the largest American beer maker. (Anheuser-Busch became a Belgian-owned company in 2008 after InBev bought the company for $52 billion.)
The commercial highlights the positive impact that many immigrants have had on the U.S., while the current conversation about immigration is centered largely on terrorism or how undocumented workers are taking U.S. jobs.
There’s data to back up the economic message of the commercial, too. A study last year from the National Foundation for American Policy found that immigrants started more than half of the 87 U.S.-based startups worth $1 billion or more, including WeWork, Moderna Therapeutics and SpaceX. Their companies on average employed 760 workers.
The founders hail from India, Israel, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, among 15 other countries around the world. About a quarter of the founders first came to the U.S. as international students.
This is hardly a new phenomenon, as the Budweiser ad shows. Another study from Partnership for a New American Economy found that almost a fifth of Fortune 500 companies in 2010 were founded by immigrants, many of them as far back as the 19th century. (Notable example: Communications giant AT&T traces its roots to the Bell Telephone Company, founded by Scottish immigrant Alexander Graham Bell.)
Another fifth of the companies were founded by children of immigrants, such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, whose parents came from Syria, one of the country’s affected by President Trump’s recent travel ban. Bob Miner, founder of Oracle, had parents who emigrated from Iran.
In total, immigrants or children of immigrants founded 40 percent of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies, employing 3.6 million people at the time, with combined revenue of $4.2 trillion.
Many of these companies are American business icons, including McDonald’s (child of immigrant), Ford (child of immigrant) and Google (immigrant founder). Click here to see other major U.S. companies that were founded by immigrants.