This year, in addition to asking consumers to evaluate the 248 brands for its Most Patriotic Brand survey, Brand Keys asked respondents to name anyone – alive or dead – who they felt best personified the value of patriotism in the United States.
“It’s clear that some brands resonate with certain values better than others. This year we thought it would be provocative to see how that worked with people,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of New York-based research consultancy Brand Keys, Inc., in a press release. “We edited out historical, likely-suspect mentions, like George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Betsy Ross, Nathan Hale, Abigail Adams, Thomas Paine and Alexander Hamilton, as they’ve earned their place in history. And, for obvious reasons, we ducked the current crop of presidential hopefuls and candidates for office.”
The following top 20 most patriotic Americans list emerged, a mix of entertainers, soldiers, athletes, cultural influencers and commentators.
- John Wayne
- Tom Hanks
- Jon Stewart
- Taylor Swift
- Stephen Spielberg
- Oprah Winfrey
- Neil Armstrong
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Stephen Colbert
- Ruth Bader Ginsberg
- Martin Luther King
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Antonin Scalia
- Angelina Jolie
- Lin-Manuel Miranda
- Jackie Robinson
- Bill O’Reilly
- Tim Cook
- Gloria Steinem
- John Oliver
Several of the names were not surprising. John Wayne was never shy about his love for America – on or off screen. Bill O’Reilly has written four books dealing with American history. Tom Hanks plays unlikely American heroes and has worked to strengthen the legacy of the Greatest Generation. “He’s an American Spirit Award winner,” said Passikoff. “Jon Stewart has railed against false patriotism, and Lin-Manuel Miranda has re-framed American history and created a new paradigm for patriotism. If you take a moment to think about it, everyone on the list ultimately has a valid and significant stake when it comes to patriotism.”
“The term ‘brand’ has been overused,” commented Passikoff. “Anything that has a degree of awareness or celebrity calls itself a ‘brand’ today. But in reality a real brand must be imbued with something more than talent or celebrity, and certainly more than awareness or notoriety. It needs to be a value people recognize and desire. You can find all the rational reasons citizens thought of these people first.”
Top 50 most patriotic U.S. brands
And what about the results on most patriotic brands? Consumers identified the following brands as leaders of patriotism (percentages indicate brands’ emotional engagement strength for the individual value of patriotism).
- Jeep/Disney (98 percent);
- Levi Strauss (96 percent);
- Ralph Lauren (95 percent);
- Ford (94 percent);
- Coca-Cola/Jack Daniels (93 percent);
- Harley Davidson/Gillette (92 percent);
- Apple/Coors/Sam Adams (91 percent);
- Gatorade/Amazon (90 percent);
- Zippo/Hershey’s/Kellogg’s (89 percent); and
- American Express/Wrigley’s (87 percent).
“It’s been said that patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion,” said Passikoff. “Based on this year’s list, one could reasonably agree with the position that patriotism is the quiet and steady dedication of a lifetime’s work. Looking at the list our respondents generated, I think that’s probably true of every one of the names, no matter where you personally stand on the political spectrum.”
A national sample of 4,750 consumers, ages 16 to 65, were asked to evaluate which of the 248 brands included this year were most resonant when it comes to “patriotism.” Research was conducted May 16 – June 15, 2016.