Can the American Flag Be Used for Advertising?

Featuring 13 stripes and 50 stars, the American flag is symbolic of our country’s core values, including freedom and liberty. As a result, you can find it displayed just about everywhere. The American flag is commonly displayed in front of residential homes, government buildings and private businesses. Some businesses, in fact, use the American flag for advertising purposes. While using the American flag in a banner, flyer or any other advertisement may sound harmless, though, it’s considered a violation of the U.S. Flag Code.

What the US Flag Code Says

The U.S. Flag Code specifically states that the American flag should not be used for advertising purposes. “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.

Furthermore, the U.S. Flag Code states that advertisements should not be attached, mounted or otherwise fastened to a staff containing the American flag. Any use of the American flag for advertising purposes is a violation of the U.S. Flag Code.

Why the US Flag Code Prohibits Advertising With the American Flag

Upon reading this, you might be wondering why it’s against the U.S. Flag Code to use the American flag for advertising purposes. Well, all forms of advertising involve the promotion of a business’s products, services or brands. Therefore, they are driven by commercial profits. To preserve the values for which it stands, the U.S. Flag Code prohibits businesses or individuals from using the American flag for advertising purposes.

The U.S. Flag Code has been around for over a half-century. It was made an official law in 1942 to celebrate and honor the American flag. Prior to the U.S. Flag Code, there was the National Flag Code, which served a similar purpose by outlining requirements regarding the display, usage and retirement of the American flag. With that said, it wasn’t until 1942 when the modern U.S. Flag Code took effect.

Although it’s not enforced — meaning you won’t get thrown in jail for violating it — it’s still a good idea to comply with the U.S. Flag Code. Among other things, this means you shouldn’t use the American flag for advertising purposes. Using the American flag to promote a business’s products, services or brands is a clear violation of the U.S. Flag Code.

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