Military Moments in Advertising
Many advertisers take opportunities to honor military members – learn how this can enhance brand building
As a veteran myself, there’s something incredibly special about seeing military members in advertisements. While certain occasions like Veterans Day and the Super Bowl tend to see an increase in military-focused ads, some brands are bringing these stories to life throughout the year.
With more than 1.1 million active-duty military members in the U.S. and more than 17 million veterans, there’s an entire community of people who have dedicated themselves to serving our country. Their loved ones are also greatly impacted by their commitments. Advertisers that can effectively tap into the strong values of the military not only unite us but set themselves up for commercial success.
How Heroes Support Brand Building
Leveraging the heroics of current military members and veterans can help viewers form positive associations with brands that lead to market share growth and profit gains. Below are just a few of our favorite ads that showcase military personnel and achieve long-term effectiveness.
This 5-Star ad from the beer brand highlights Budweiser’s relationship with Folds of Honor, a non-profit supporting military families. In the spot, we see numerous Budweiser brewers, who happen to be veterans, meet with a tour group consisting of Folds of Honor scholarship recipients. They are there to thank the brewers for their work in bringing the Freedom Reserve beer to the market, which donates a portion of its proceeds to the charity. Happiness levels run high as the ad progresses, making it a prime example of how authenticity yields great results.
Facebook takes a page out of System1’s book by avoiding falling into the “sadness trap” in a 5-Star ad about an active-duty mom who can’t be home for Christmas. Using Facebook Groups (the Military Mama Network™ to be exact), she rallies neighborhood mothers to get her house decorated for the holiday, which leads to a big reveal for her children and husband. While the ad does see some viewers experience sadness, these feelings are resolved by the ad’s conclusion, which sees high levels of happiness and surprise.
Putting Family First – Zach Pasquariello
LinkedIn’s series focusing on how real people have benefitted from the employment platform consistently score well with the general population, as well as with the under-represented groups they feature. We included many of these ads in our Feeling Seen USA report, as they tell genuine stories to which many people can relate. Zach Pasquariello, a veteran, stars in this 2020 spot about beginning a new chapter of his career after years of service in the military thanks to LinkedIn. The family-oriented ad, which also features visuals of his life in the army, scores a strong 4-Stars.
The car maker’s holiday ad features a young girl making Christmas decorations throughout the year, which she regularly packages up and drops in her mailbox. Once it’s winter, she’s ready to send another envelope. Upon arriving at the mailbox, she’s greeted by a tree adorned with all of her creations and the best gift of all, her father home from the military. This surprise leads to an impressive rise in happiness among viewers and the maximum 5.9-Star score.
American Red Cross
Many non-profit advertisements are successful at short-term activation but fail to engage audiences over the long term, which can hinder an organization’s growth and ability to help more people in need. This is because many non-profits focus on intense imagery and sad soundtracks to cut to the core and encourage viewers to take action. One ad from the American Red Cross, which relays emergency messages between troops and their families, takes a different approach. The spot is part of a series that gathers home video footage and real testimonials, with this PSA showcasing a soldier returning to the U.S. for the birth of his second child. The authenticity and the happy occasion yields feelings of happiness and a strong 4.3-Stars, indicating positive long-term effects for the non-profit.
Military appreciation days like Veterans Day and Memorial Day are clear opportunities for advertisers to showcase gratitude and celebrate heroism. Yet there are also ways in which brands can feature military members and veterans outside of these holidays. Values like duty, honor, respect and loyalty generate positive feelings when they are coupled with strong, authentic storytelling. We salute the organizations that are dedicated to inclusion for this group and hope to see others join the ranks of advertisers making effective work featuring military heroes.
To see how your own military-focused ad performs with viewers, use our Test Your Ad platform to get insights and recommendations that will enable your creative to drive profits and market share growth.