If you do some research you will find out how Dwayne the Rock Johnson and the TV detective Perry Mason are connected, and how some unbranded ad copy to sell magazines became the defining oath for all Americans for the last 130 years. Did you know the original Pledge of Allegiance was created as a marketing campaign?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
We all remember learning and standing for the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school. Did you know that refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is protected by the constitution? The government cannot require students to participate in the pledge. People protest the pledge to make a point, and others say the pledge because it is near and dear to their hearts. It has been ingrained in American culture for 130 years. But how does all this all relate to marketing?
The Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine, came up with a marketing campaign to increase their circulation and sell more ads. The magazine created the pledge to kick off Columbus Day activities during a ceremony. Francis Bellamy, a minister and author, wrote the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition, during the ceremony, the magazine sold American flags at cost as a loss leader. The point was to get people there and sell more magazine subscriptions. They sold 26,000 flags while also boosting their subscriptions by fifty percent.
The pledge was meant to provoke an emotion from the audience. However, it was never meant to be recited daily from every school kid in America. The pledge was for a one-time event and to sell magazine subscriptions. However, the success of the Pledge of Allegiance allowed Francis Bellamy to move to New York and become one of the original Mad Men of Madison Avenue. Eventually, schools across the country started incorporating the pledge daily. In 1954, “under God” was added to the pledge by Congress. Overall, the pledge was to sell magazines; now, the flag is so prominent in our culture because of Francis Bellamy and the Pledge of Allegiance.
It just goes to show, even ad veterans who understand the ad game, are influenced by marketing and advertising in their everyday lives.
If you would like to hear two industry experts further dissect this topic, head over to The Marketing Rescue Podcast