- Diageo has introduced American Anthem, a distilled vodka produced from corn sourced from Indiana and Iowa.
- As part of its mission, American Anthem will donate $1 from each bottle made, to be split between Operation Gratitude and The Mission Continues, two charitable organizations dedicated to supporting military personnel and their families.
- The brand is the latest spirit from London-based Diageo, which also produces Smirnoff, Ketel One and Cîroc vodkas.
Just in time for Memorial Day, Diageo is releasing its own patriotic adult beverage decorated with American flags and red, white and blue colors adorning the label. This product is the latest by an alcohol maker to embrace a patriotic image. In recent summers, Budweiser has released its own lineup of patriotic packaging.
The patriotic branding is one way that big companies are trying to resonate and stand out with consumers in a competitive market place. In the case of American Anthem, Diageo is going out of its way to tout that it is using corn from Iowa and Indiana, two of America's largest growers of the widely used crop. They are likely hoping their branding resonates with consumers in the Midwest and across the country who see a company helping to support their local farmers.
By donating money from the sale of each bottle of American Anthem, Diageo is hoping to show consumers that it is going beyond just giving a nod to patriotism by putting its money where its mouth is. Past history indicates the British beverage company faces an uphill battle in proving its patriotism. Utpal Dholakia told W5 Insight that simply putting an American flag on a product made by a company that isn’t American or seen to have a strong American tie, could lead to consumer backlash.
U.S. companies have long worked to tie their brands to America. Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand has the advantage of an association with football and other sports correlated with America. Other businesses such as Hershey, Kellogg, Mondelez and Coca-Cola have supported U.S. teams in the Olympics, and have strong ties with the American public. Wheaties, a General Mills brand, is famous for featuring Olympians on cereal boxes for decades.
Overall, marketing experts say tying your brand to patriotism is a risky business. A survey in Ad Age showed North American millennials and Gen Zer are generally less patriotic than older consumers. Younger generations are more culturally diverse, the report says, and tend to be better educated, more open-minded and more socially progressive. They make up an increasingly larger portion of today’s buying public, and they may not be as easily swayed by patriotic messages as earlier generations.
In order to be seen as authentic, food and beverage companies tying their products to patriotism should consider whether the brand is uniquely American or provides a product or service that is uniquely American, W5 Insight suggested. And rather than attempting to appeal to the general population, they may have the best success by targeting their product to a specific area or culture. Even better, they might tie their product to local ingredients, like Diageo did with American Anthem, or causes rather than the huge umbrella of the U.S.
As Memorial Day parades give way to Fourth of July picnics, expect to see a variety of red, white and blue food packaging and appeals to our love of country. The trick for companies is to turn this patriotic love into profits.