Dec 26, 2013

Posted by in Business | Comments Off on The American Flag In Advertising

The American Flag In Advertising

Advertising has never been accused of being discreet. All sorts of sacred objects and taboo subjects have found their ways into sometimes controversial advertising campaigns. Over the thousands of years advertising of products and services has gone on, companies and individuals have arrived on a variety of ways to get their message across. Advertising flags have been one way of obtaining and holding a crowd. This is particularly true if the flag used is not one designed for this purpose. One such example of advertising flags not specifically crated for this purpose is the American flag.

The American Flag and Political Advertising

The American flag has always been a drawing card for patriotic gestures. It has been raised over many a campaign trail. More politicians than you can count have wrapped themselves figuratively in the American flag hoping what it stands for will rub off on them. Yet, this does not make it an advertising tool.

In 1840, the race for the presidency of the United States saw the entry of William Henry Harrison (1775-1841). He was to gain the position but held the shortest term in office. Yet, when flag collectors seek out memorabilia of President Harrison, they are looking for flags – advertising flags. Specifically, they are trying to purchase American flags advertising the virtues of Harrison.

Harrison and his campaign workers were the first Americans in political history to create a campaign that involved the flag extensively. It was not simply a matter of having it present at rallies and other political events. In Harrison’s campaign for the White House, the American flag became part of a marketing drive. The American flag with its 17 stripes was present but on it were depictions of Harrison and/or slogans.

This was “The Log Cabin Campaign” in which the American flag actually featured a log cabin in front of which Harrison stood. The same flags also bore pictures of Harrison accompanied by various phrases including “Old Tip” and “The Hero of Tippecanoe.” This type of campaign launched what became a 60-year period in which politicians regularly placed their names and slogans on American flags during their runs for office.

This state of affairs was to continue, in spite of attempts to ban it in both 1890 and 1895. It was also a reaction against other uses of the flag as an advertising tool. It has been appearing on beer bottles and a host of other products. Yet, it was not until 1905 that Congress finally decided to outlaw the practice. Since that year, it has been against the law to use the symbol of American as part of any advertising gimmick.

The Flag Code is Born

The practice did not completely fade away. There were political supporters who continued to create these types of advertising flags. While individual states began to take control over the situation, it was not until 1942 that the Federal Flag Code came into existence to protect such acts of desecration.

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