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Car companies from all corners of the Earth will employ Uncle Sam as their top salesman this week, hoping to squeeze a little extra green out of the red, white, and blue.
But while Fourth of July sales are a standard — and it’s not just automakers getting in on the promotions — some brands have a little more believability when it comes to marketing on patriotism.
“Saying it, doing it, and doing it believably are going to be three different things for consumers. This is not a matter of awareness, it's a matter of emotional engagement,” said Robert Passikoff, the founder and president of Brand Keys, a New York-based consumer research firm.
Just in time for Independence Day, Mr. Passikoff has released a list of the 25 most patriotic brands in America.
Topping the list is Jeep, a brand born in Toledo out of World War II that built its reputation on ruggedness and being an American original.
The most patriotic of American brands, according to the survey:
2. Hershey’s, Coca-Cola (tie)
4. Levi Strauss, Disney (tie)
9. Ralph Lauren
10. Kodak, Gillette (tie)
12. New Balance, Harley-Davidson (tie)
14. Budweiser, Marlboro (tie)
17. Louisville Slugger, Smith & Wesson (tie)
20. John Deere, L.L. Bean (tie)
23. Craftsman Tools, Wilson Sporting Goods, Wrangler clothing (tie)
Brand Keys’ list came from a survey of 4,500 consumers across the United States. The research looked at almost 200 different brands, honing in on how much each was associated with the idea and value of patriotism.
Jeep’s score of 98 on a 100-point scale was tops, beating out Hershey’s and Coca-Cola, which tied for second.
Despite the old advertising jingle about Chevrolet being as American as baseball and apple pie, no General Motors brand made the cut. In fact, the only other car brand in the top 25 was Ford, which ranked 16th.
Mr. Passikoff said that in an age where there’s little real difference in quality between one brand and the next, a lot of car buying comes down to intangibles. "Generally speaking, the decision process is more emotional than it is rational,” he said.
The choice made sense to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).
“It will come as no surprise to generations of workers in Toledo that Jeep is the ‘most patriotic’ brand,” Miss Kaptur said in a release. “It’s really what we’re all about as a community.”
The survey gives Jeep, and to a slightly lesser extent Ford, an added boost and helps them better capitalize on marketing efforts that attempt to link the brands to America, freedom, patriotism, and the like.
Though the list is fun, there is a real value to it for brands and their marketers. Essentially, it gives them some grasp of how well they should expect to do from their marketing that tries to tap into buyers’ emotions. A brand consumers view as an American icon should get more traction out of a patriotic-themed advertising campaign than a brand that consumers don’t.
Levi Strauss and Disney tied for fourth. Other notables included Zippo, at seventh, and Kodak and Gillette, which tied for 10th. Marlboro and Budweiser tied for 14th.
And while Budweiser was once wholly American, since 2008 it has been a brand of the Belgian-based Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Does that matter to consumers? “Apparently not,” Mr. Passikoff said with a chuckle. “All I can say is they ended up about the middle of the list.”
In a sense, that goes back to what the list is all about: perception and emotion. Jeep, for that matter, is a brand of Chrysler Group LLC — which is majority owned by the Italian automaker Fiat SpA.
“I guess it depends on how much you know and how much the rational fact leverages against the emotion,” Mr. Passikoff said.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: