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How do you solve a problem like... navigating around national identities?

October 12, 2021

A recent Budweiser campaign honoring Labor Day in the US took a patriotic angle to celebrating that holiday and the labor movement it marks. Nothing out of the ordinary for the King of Beers, which is a mainstay of big patriotic moments in the US such as the Super Bowl. Wrapping a brand in the flag is hardly limited to American commerce either – British brands from Tango to Churchill have both nodded at national identity, whether it’s through a bombastic ad featuring hovering Harrier jets (’Come on, France!’) or simply naming oneself after the country’s favorite prime minister.

But not every brand has such leeway. And a patriotic tie-in can go wildly wrong if it’s seen as nationalistic or parochial. So for agencies advising clients, or creative directors and copywriters deciding whether or not to invoke national or regional identities, how far should you go? How do you know where the line is?

How do you solve a problem like... navigating around national identities?

Chaaya Mistry, senior diversity strategist, Rapp UK

Let’s wake up to the fact that sentiments around patriotism are changing. No longer are people – especially younger generations – willing to uphold archaic beliefs and values that thrive off of social injustices in the name of their country.

And isn’t that what true patriotism should be about? Calling your country out on its shortcomings and encouraging it to live up to more purposeful and inclusive ideals that benefit the many? For brands, it’s about using their position and power to create meaningful change that brings those ideals to life – to be a part of the solution, rather than perpetuating the problems.

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