Patriotism in Advertising
Last evening as I was approaching my home, I noticed an American flag stuck to the ground at the bottom of my mail-box. The first, very brief thought was to wonder if the better half had suddenly gone patriotic (that too for a country we aren’t exactly citizens of). Then I noticed similar flags planted on almost all houses in our neighborhood, which made me think it had something to do with community-enforced patriotism. Given all the recent hoopla over flag-burning amendments and such in the US Senate (really, with a war going on, with the threat of terrorism still rampant, the government, especially Senator Orrin Hatch finds this as the pressing issue! but I digress), I wouldn’t have been surprised.
However, closer inspection finally revealed a small card attached to the flag-stick – it was our friendly neighborhood realtor, complete with name, address and the customary mug-shot1. Now in any given week, we receive anywhere between five to ten letters/postcards/assorted junk mail from local realtors – all asking us, very politely, to sell our house because the market right now is so great for sellers, and barring that, at least consider buying another house, because, wouldn’t you know it, the market is really hot for buyers ! The letters also mention that by opting to use their very personalized services, we would be making one of the smartest decisions in life. These junk mails obviously go to the recycle bin, although some of the solicitors are smart and send us stuff we can actually use – e.g. a fridge magnet calendar or the phone numbers of local restaurants and take outs.
Coming back to this particular realtor, I assume that by giving away free flags, he is jumping on the July 4th surge of patriotism bandwagon. With many Americans having the tendency to wear their love for the country on their sleeves, the stars and stripes becomes ubiquitous around this time. From my point of view, nothing wrong with it really.
But I was thinking if he did take into consideration the non-citizens in the area who might be offended by having American flags thrust onto them. As a businessman, you do not want to alienate any potential customer. However, it could have been a calculated risk. I can safely say that the majority in our suburban locality are Americans. The only other Indian person I know in the neighborhood is also an American citizen. So not much loss in terms of customers but perhaps brownie points from the patriotic standpoint ?
Or is there something more sinister going on here – are we being subtly told that the neighborhood is for Americans only ?
Or perhaps, this is actually a test – the FBI planted these flags (sponsored by our friendly neighborhood realtor) and is secretly monitoring who keeps the flag and who tosses them out. Hmmm….now I am getting real paranoid !
1. For some reason, real estate agents out here have got into the habit of splattering their picture all over their business stationaries – cards, letterheads, envelopes etc. And it is not just the good-looking ones either. There are plenty of ugly mugs out there selling real estate who still proudly and unapologetically inflict their profile on the innocent populace. Here is Scott Adams (of Dilberts fame) take on it. Also, came across couple of funny posts on the blog here and here related to realtors and their marketing gimmicks.
2. Do read what the eco-geeks at Freakonomics have to say on real estate agents.