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Using Patriotic Themes in Your Advertising

We are just coming off a Memorial Day weekend. With this holiday comes the ever-present tie in to the patriotism that we naturally feel around these days. Advertisers hope that we will feel an affinity towards the brands that use patriotic messaging to invoke stronger sentiment towards their products.

Certain products have always been part of a Memorial Day advertising campaign – Picnic items, beverages, home improvement, barbeques and those activities associated with the advent of Summer.

How Effective is Patriotic Advertising?

With Memorial Day in the rearview mirror and the Fourth of July ahead, now is a good time to assess whether you should consider using patriotic themes in your future advertising or messaging.

According to Thunderfoot, advertising using a patriotism theme can be a powerful strategy.

“Great advertising relies upon effective design and language to forge bonds between a brand and its customers. By integrating patriotic imagery into their ads, American brands create a connection for consumers between their product and all the commonly cited virtues of the good old US of A — freedom, determination, and originality among them. Referencing American iconography typically suggests a brand’s honor and integrity, and helps stoke consumers’ loyalty to that brand by touting qualities that consumers can feel good about supporting.”

When not to use Patriotic Advertising

Generally speaking, patriotic advertising works for many brands or situations. However, there might be times when it doesn’t fit and can actually damage your brand. Here are a few examples of poorly executed patriotic advertising:

1. When the advertisement is promoting an inappropriate patriotic connection to the brand.
“Nothing says Memorial Day like Fresh Baked Bread”
Probably nobody ever has said this and therefore it shouldn’t be said. The brand comes off as out of touch.

2. When the usage of patriotism seems gratuitous.
An example of this might be a swimsuit commercial where there are flags all around the pool trying to make a connection to patriotism that would rarely exist in real life.

3. When you create an emotional patriotic event that inadvertently works against your product.
An example might be showing fallen soldiers or families as a backdrop to your product. This is very risky as you could end up with consumers associating your product with a strong negative feeling.

Should you, or shouldn’t you?

The July 4th holiday is about a month away. As you plan for Summer promotions remember these tips. Importantly, make sure to maintain the respect and reverence we should always practice around this topic.