What does ‘patriotic’ mean for brands and retailers?
Underscoring how the U.S. has become more divided in its sentiments, the 17th annual Brand Keys survey of 2019’s Most Patriotic American Brands saw Chick-fil-A, associated with some right-wing causes, and Patagonia, associated with left-wing causes, land on the top-50 list for the first time.
Chick-fil-A has been regularly called out for its CEO’s decision in 2012 to come out against gay marriage. The chain has been banned from two major airports — San Antonio and Buffalo — and several universities.
Patagonia, also threatened with boycotts, has blasted the Trump administration on environmental policies including reducing the size of two national monuments and exiting the Paris climate change agreement.
Among other brands, Nike, which controversially featured Colin Kaepernick in a major campaign, moved up five spots on the top-50 list. The former NFL star kneeled during games to protest racial injustice. Levi’s, LL Bean and Harley Davidson — all involved recently in political controversies — also gained ground.
The political tone was particularly shown by gains from media companies, including FOX News, which climbed four slots on the top-50 list, and MSNBC, up eight spots. The New York Times and The Washington Post made the list for the first time. The findings were based on a survey of nearly 6,000 consumers.
“Interestingly, there’s a high correlation between consumers’ increased self-perceptions of being patriotic and the appearance of more media brands in the top-50,” noted Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, in a statement. “Perhaps more people are paying more attention this year.”
Jeep, Disney, Ford and Coca-Cola still led the list and Brand Keys said its rankings do not mean other brands don’t have patriotic resonance. Being an American company, being ‘Made in the USA,’ or having strong CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives can boost a brand’s perception.
However, the findings show approaches “surrounded by flags and fireworks” now have to compete in socio-political contexts. Said Mr. Passikoff, “Politics is now making itself felt more in the brandscape than ever. Particularly as to how consumers view themselves and their brands-of-choice through a political and patriotic lens.”
Brand Keys Top-50 Most Patriotic American Brands 2019 (54 Accounting For Ties)
- Jeep (—)
- Disney (—)
- Ford (+1)
- Coca-Cola (- 1)
- Levi Strauss (+3)
- American Express / MSNBC (-1, +8)
- Hershey’s (—)
- AT&T / The New York Times (—, new)
- Walmart (—)
- FOX News (+4)
- Ralph Lauren / Jack Daniels (—, -3)
- Amazon / Twitter (—, -6)
- Dunkin’ / Coach (new, -2)
- KFC / Coors / Pepsi (+2, +3, +2)
- McDonald’s / Chick-fil-A (—, new)
- The Washington Post (new)
- Apple (- 4)
- Sam Adams / Coors (—, -1)
- Instagram / L.L. Bean (—, +4)
- Kellogg’s (—)
- Old Navy / John Deere (—, +1)
- Craftsmen Tools / Colgate (—, +6)
- J. Crew / Nike / Patagonia (—, +5, new)
- Gibson / USAA (- 4, new)
- Starbucks / Harley Davidson (—, +3)
- Gatorade / Google (—, -2)
- 7th Generation / Patriots /Wrangler (new, +2, +1)
- Converse / Cowboys / New Balance / Yankees (all +1)
- 49ers /Louisville Slugger / MLB / Wilson Sporting Goods (all —)
Numbers in parentheses indicate movement up, down, or new to the ranks from 2018.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think consumers increasingly view brands in political terms? If yes, is this a perception that brands and retailers should encourage?