Before you Fly the Flag: Should American Flag Be Used for Advertising?

Real Estate Agent with EXIT REALTY NEXUS

[Update:  Please don't misunderstand, I am absolutely thrilled when I see well cared for American Flags on homes in good weather during the day, or on appropriate flag poles with lights at night.  It's the small flags that businesses attach their cards to and stick in the ground near everyone's mailboxes that I am talking about...  And this is about the time of year when REALTORS® and other businesses purchase flags for advertising purposes.  I hope some of them will read this and change their plans.]

Call me old fashioned if you like, but I am repulsed by businesses that use the American Flag as a marketing tool.  I would love to tell them that the symbol of our nation was not created to increase their bottom line.  Check out the US Flag Code or visit the VFW Website and AMVETS Website for more info on the flag history and etiquette.  My biggests pet peeve is the use of the American Flag for advertising.

From the US Flag Code:   

  • (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

Last July 4th, small American flags were distributed in my neighborhood with business cards attached to them.  That night, most of them were still there, in the dark.  A two days later, I noticed flags lying in the street all tattered and dirty, some were in garbage cans, and others were laying in mud puddles.

A word to my fellow REALTORS® and other business people who think it is OK to use our American Flag for business purposes...  There are many Americans who consider such uses of the American Flag to be disrespectful.  How many of them could be potential customers?  Sometimes minor things can drive customers away.  Please think before you decide to distribute American Flags. 

If you don't feel like reading the whole US Flag Code, here are a few more highlights:

  1. Flags should not be left outside at night or in inclement weather.
  2. Flags should NEVER be thrown in the garbage.  Most VFW and AMVETS posts hold ceremonial flag buring services.  Give them your used flags and they will dispose of them properly and with dignity.
  3. Tattered and worn flags should not be flown.
  4. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  5. The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
  6. The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
  7. flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.
  8. The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.  See item #2.

And yes, it bothers me that many car dealerships and most Perkins restaurants fly overly large and/or numerous flags.  One is sufficient to show your patriotism.  Also, the size of the flag needs to be proportional to the height of the flag pole.  According to the standard, Perkins should fly smaller flags or install taller poles.

There is even a website that tracks US Flag Code Violations.  Scroll down to find the appropriate section on this website.

Maybe it is because I used to be a Girl Scout or maybe it is because my Grandfather (who fought in both WWI and WWII) instilled these values in me as a child, or maybe it was because my Great-Grandfather passed down stories about the lack of freedom in the "old country", but I really don't understand why people who claim to be patriotic are so unaware of flag etiquette and civics in general, especially when there is such easy access to this information on the internet.

Citizenship has responsibilities as well as rights.  We should take pride and educate ourselves on the concepts of Flag Etiquette, Voting, Jury Duty, and the Principles of Democracy.

That's my 2 cents worth!

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Patti Ann Kasper Real Estate Expert Homes for Sale Lino Lakes Blaine Coon Rapids MN Minnesota MLS Bedrooms Navelinski Bdr BDR Listings Rental Invest

© Copyright Patti Ann Kasper 2012 All Right Reserved.

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Ty Carey
Our Father's Houses Realty - Easley, SC

My opionion is fly the flag proudly for what ever reason!

Jun 28, 2012 12:09 AM #1
Steven Zimmerman
Belloise Realty Tropical - New Port Richey, FL
Husband & Father, @Gulf_Harbors Resident Realtor


I'm the first one to take advantage of any good marketing idea ...and with that said, I agree with you 1000% ! 

Over the past 13 years within my Coastal, Family and Boaters Friendly Community on Florida's Gulf of Mexico I have handed out and placed [in the middle of the night] over 10,000 Flags and Never with anything attached.

Have a Happy [and safe] 4th of July ...and GOD Bless America

Steven Zimmerman Realtor ABR GRI

Gulf Harbors, Fl 34652


Jun 29, 2013 10:11 AM #2
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

The owner of our brokerage sent out an email years ago and said it was disrespectful to attach a business card to a flag and asked that we please not do it.  I would not have, anyway - I think it is just wrong and inappropriate. 

Jun 30, 2013 01:41 AM #3
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Patti Ann Kasper

Blaine & North Metro Minneapolis St Paul Real Esta
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