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Patriotism in Advertising

with 6 comments

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.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

June 28, 2006 at 11:29 am

Posted in Fun, Personal, Rants

6 Responses

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  1. The real estate market is doing good where you are? For us it’s been kind of in the dumps lately. Just trying not to get paranoid and sell our house. But the lengths these real estate agents can go to are pretty amazing. Yes even the “ugly mugs out there” :)))


    June 28, 2006 at 12:25 pm

  2. I get the sense that you maybe don’t love freedom as much as you should.

    There is one realtor back here in the roc that puts “God bless America” right on their damn for sale signs.

    One other thing that I hate is how every holiday gets a jingoistic “support the troops and remember their sacrifice tag” attached to it by the neo-con media.

    Independence day is about:

    1) Drinking beer, grilling meat, and blowing stuff up.

    2) Sticking it to the man and his unfair trade policies.

    If you are paying attention, you may notice that 2) is the more or less the opposite of “take over small countries for oil.”


    June 28, 2006 at 1:18 pm

  3. @Brian:

    1) Drinking beer, grilling meat, and blowing stuff up.

    Thats what I intend to do (at least the first two)…..will that give me some freedom credits ?


    June 28, 2006 at 2:19 pm

  4. Ha!

    Here we have our disagreement. 🙂

    Why should a non-American take offense to a flag being put in his house. First, the realtor had no knowledge that you are not a citizen. Second, flag is a secular symbol of the state as opposed to say something which is overtly religious.


    June 28, 2006 at 6:31 pm

  5. @Confused: Okay – if you say so !
    Now, firstly, I really didn’t take offense at the flag. Like I said its okay with me personally. But I don’t know if you were in this country just after 9/11 and got to observe the sudden explosion of flags all over the place !
    The flag I think has gradually become a symbol of narrow minded jingoism and overt nationalism – which does make me a tad uncomfortable.

    Secondly, the realtor is in a business and I was surpised that he was taking a risk at potentialy alienating some customers. God knows realtors keep sending calendars, note-pads, schedules for local sports teams and other paraphernalia to force us to keep them in mind.


    June 28, 2006 at 9:29 pm

  6. @ M: Your comment went into the spam section for some reason !

    Real estate has been holding up okay out here – we never had an unrealistic boom here like NY/DC/SF etc. Houses are taking a little longer to sell thats all.


    July 2, 2006 at 12:42 pm

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