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Politics redraws brand patriotism

News, 04 July 2017
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NEW YORK: Media and social brands, including Fox News, MSNBC, Twitter and Instagram, feature for the first time in a list of America's Top 50 Most Patriotic Brands.

A survey by the Brand Keys consultancy asked 4,860 consumers aged 16 to 65, which of 280 brands were most resonant as to "patriotism" and found that Jeep, Levi Strauss, Disney, Coca-Cola and Ford headed a Top 50 list that has seen some significant changes in the wake of Donald Trump's election as president.

Noteworthy additions to the ranking, which has been running for 15 years, included news platforms Fox and MSNBC, representing both sides of the political divide, and social networks Twitter and Instagram.

"Politics has made itself more emotionally felt this year than ever, particularly when it comes to how consumers look at brands through a patriotic lens," said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys.

"Whether you're politically left, right, or center, what's clear is that these consumer attitudinal shifts come with a set of newly re-written rules of branding, expressed every day via news programs and social networks like the President's favorite, Twitter, and Millennials' Instagram."

He observed that last year's presidential election and subsequent events had "dramatically shifted" the four key drivers of the perception of patriotism.

Thus, the driver that was once "pride" has moved closer to "self-importance", while the "inclusion" driver has shifted to "marginalization".

Similarly, "courage" has morphed into "convenience," and "freedom" has actually become the vice of "extremism".

"Typically 4th of July brand advertising and social outreach would feature patriotic flag-waving and red-white-and-blue motifs," said Passikoff. "But a good deal of what used to be forthright marketing has become politicized, with some brands wrapping themselves more tightly in the flag."

Believability and authenticity are the keys to emotional engagement, according to Brand Keys, and where a brand can establish emotional connections – a 'Made in the USA' label isn't sufficient in the context of patriotism – consumers are six times more likely to believe and behave positively toward the brand.

"I found the addition of Tesla and Airbnb interesting," Passikoff added of two more new entrants, describing them as "a kind of new freedom from traditional gasoline and the freedom to travel without worrying about traditional hotel living".

Data sourced from Brand Keys; additional content by WARC staff

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