What’s Behind the Patriotic Ad Explosion?

I had heard that Budweiser plans to re-name its beer America for the summer–a bit incongruous, given that Anheuser-Busch is now owned by a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate. But Advertising Age says it is part of a trend:

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Coke is the latest brand dressing itself in Old Glory. The soda brand has begun selling limited edition red, white and blue cans that will be available in select convenience and grocery stores through July 4.

The cans also feature the patriotic song lyric “I’m proud to be an American.” …

While patriotic marketing has long been part of many brands’ playbooks, the use of American-themed packaging is on the rise this year. …

Budweiser has rebranded itself “America” for the summer with special packaging.

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Burnett’s Vodka launched a “USA Party” edition. Smirnoff just announced a version called Red, White & Berry. MillerCoors-owned Keystone Light is promoting a “Stone Spangled Summer” program that includes patriotic packaging. Skittles is selling an “America Mix” of red, white and blue Skittles. Hershey has changed the silver lettering on its milk chocolate bars — the first lettering change on that package in 122 years — to red, white and blue. M&Ms has a red-white-and-blue version.

Ad Age suggests that this outburst of patriotism is “motivated in part by the fact that this is an Olympic year.” Maybe so. But I don’t remember anything similar in 2012, nor has there been a lot of Olympics publicity this year, apart from news stories about zika and problems in Rio.

It probably pains most people in advertising to be pro-USA, so what gives? I’m guessing it has to do with Donald Trump. “Make America great again” has swept the primary season, and creative types have taken note. Much as most of them may despise Trump, they know a trend when they see one. After eight years of the unpatriotic Barack Obama administration, the pendulum is swinging, and Madison Avenue is jumping on board. That’s my interpretation, anyway.

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