Nationalism still works

Posted: June 12, 2010 by jamesalofs in Uncategorized
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I believe that nationalism can be a very dangerous emotion to play with in advertising, but when done right has huge persuasive power. Nationalistic claims can be particularly dangerous in the automotive industry where most consumers are already aware of the truly global nature of the industry. Toyota may be HQ’d in Toyota City, Japan, but their US advertising calls out the fact they have several factories and several thousand employees in that country. Your Corolla bought in New Jersey was probably assembled by an American with many US-sourced components.

VW plays on “Affordable German Engineering” in many of its ads in Canada, also playing the nationalism game but from a different angle. This is a similar positioning that many luxury brands utilize, projecting favourable quality or style images of the home country to international consumers.

Finally, the Detroit Big 3 have been intermittently utilizing nationalism in campaigns for most of their recorded history. These campaigns are mostly targeted at their home markets. I have seen very few examples of Big 3 ads using US place of origin to sell cars in foreign markets. Judging by their US market shares over the past 2 decades (albeit in combination with poor quality and design) and the above nationalism-neutralizing responses of non-US manufacturers, some may feel that nationalism has lost its mojo, particularly in the auto industry.

I believe that in every nation on earth there are still significant groups of consumers who will be persuaded by nationalism in advertising, despite the diminishing importance of nationalism versus meritocracy (product or service performance).

This ad below for the Dodge Challenger is an example of a brand that nationalism can work for, although its an even better example of a particular product within their portfolio that nationalism can really supercharge emotion around.

Note: This was created specifically in light of World Cup action and England vs. US matchup later today. Riding the surge! WAY TO GO DODGE!


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