Week of Oct. 15: Patriotic Advertising

“Commercials should advertise products, not lives.”

During this week’s couching, Team Kenan showed patriotic advertisements to fellow Duke students. Examples included a Budweiser commercial about 9/11 and a General Motors evoking patriotic sentiment.

Students said that advertisements that tie products to American patriotism have no effect on their willingness to buy their product. It should be noted that the respondents all identified themselves as international students. That said, when asked if they feel differently about commercials that advertise using their respective countries’ patriotic ideologies, they said no.

Students disapproved of the fact that companies like Budweiser use human tragedies to sell their products. Students thought that Budweiser’s use of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was heartless and greedy.

Though students did not themselves feel affected by patriotic advertisement, most thought that such advertising is generally effective. One student remarked, “It is easiest for humans to think in a ‘us versus them’ mentality, and companies use that to create loyalty to their products.” The same student hypothesized that such advertising will be effective in countries with histories of conflict and less effective in peaceful countries.

“What companies are the most American?”

Responses that most frequently came up were:

McDonald’s Apple
Microsoft Facebook

When asked why some companies seem more American than others, students said that the global nature of these companies seemed American. It is interesting to note that these companies do not usually employ patriotic advertising.