Your Brand’s Guide to Advertising During Military Appreciation Month | Refuel Agency

For decades, Refuel Agency has worked closely with the special military audience in the U.S., and we’re honored to share our expert tips on how to show your brand’s appreciation this Military Appreciation Month. Here are our tips on how to show appreciation to the military audience, what to say on Memorial Day, and how to run military advertising campaigns that drive results.

Where did Military Appreciation Month come from?

Military Appreciation Month was introduced in 1999 by Senator John McCain as a month dedicated to recognizing and appreciating our former and current military service members. Military Appreciation Month includes six holidays, including Memorial Day. The holidays included in Military Appreciation Month are:

  • May 1: Loyalty Day. Loyalty Day, established in 1921, is a day set aside for U.S. citizens to reaffirm their loyalty to their country and remember their heritage. Some places celebrate it with parades.
  • First week of May: Public Service Recognition Week. Public Service Recognition Week honors the people who serve as federal, state, country, and local government employees.
  • May 8: Victory in Europe Day. This holiday celebrates the German surrender of World War II n May 8th, 1945.
  • The Friday before Mother’s Day: Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Founded by Ronald Reagan in 1984, Military Spouse Appreciation Day celebrates the support and sacrifices that military spouses put forth.
  • Third Saturday of every May: Armed Forces Day. Armed Forces Day honors Americans that are serving in the military.
  • First Monday of May: Memorial Day. Memorial Day is the most widely recognized holiday in Military Appreciation Month, and it honors the soldiers that have fallen in service.

The Difference Between Memorial Day and Veterans Day

It’s important to understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day (check out this post for a more detailed explanation). While Veterans Day celebrates the end of WWI (making it appropriate to say, “Happy Veterans Day”), Memorial Day is a somber remembrance of lives lost in service.

Military Appreciation Month actually includes six military holidays, all celebrating different members of the military and their unique and vital contributions to our country. One of those is a major holiday in May, Memorial Day, and part of its significance comes from the fact that most people consider it to be the official beginning of summer. Unfortunately, too often many people don’t recognize the meaning behind holidays, which can lead to brand messaging that translates as insensitive or out-of-touch. 

As a brand, approach Memorial Day with care and respect. Memorial Day allows us to collectively honor the service members who have lost their lives protecting our country, and can be a very personal and emotional day for those in the community. If you’re going to plan Memorial Day social media posts, keep them simple, respectful, and relevant. Don’t use the holiday to promote your brand, and if you’re looking to promote your summer-related content, leave out the hashtag and post on a different day. 

Here’s an example of an appropriate Memorial Day social media post. Notice that Jeep refrains from even mentioning a holiday-related sale.

Advertise Your Brand’s Military Discounts in Appreciation

May, a month dedicated to celebrating all segments of the U.S. military, is the perfect time to advertise your brand’s military benefits and discounts in appreciation. According to the Refuel Military Explorer Series, military audiences are 22% more likely to be loyal to brands that they like, and they are 26% more likely to show loyalty to brands that are supportive of their community. Additionally, a recent survey from the Military Times found that 90% of the military have taken advantage of a military offer, and 96% have shared one of these offers with a fellow member of the military.

The military community makes sacrifices for each of us every day, and they appreciate and are loyal to brands that appreciate them and their community. Use the month of May to launch new military advertising initiatives, or to highlight the military discounts you are already offering.

Read next: Military Discounts Drive Brand Loyalty. Here’s How to Implement Yours

Know the Military Audience  

military appreciation month

It’s important to know your audience when creating your brand’s messaging strategy this Military Appreciation Month. Different members of the overarching military audience have different spending habits, media preferences, and lifestyles. At Refuel, the military audience is very special to us, and we’ve dedicated time and resources to understanding them. 

For example, did you know that over half of military members are currently married (25% of them being Gen Z, and 47% being Millennials)? These military spouses (as well as their children) are deeply ingrained in the military community, whether they live on or off base. And not surprisingly, military spouses are very loyal to American-made brands that offer high quality and discounts.  

For more information on every segment of the active military, military families, reserves, national guard, and veteran audience, contact us about our Military Explorer Series™, the leading resource in military audience research. 

Read next: How to Create Veterans Day Ads That Stand Out

When Advertising to Military, Authenticity Is Key 

One person who truly understands the importance of authenticity is photographer and Marine Corps veteran, Cedric Terrell. Cedric knows that when undertaking a mission to reach our men and women in uniform, an eye for detail and dedication to authentic portrayal is key.  

“Though ‘be authentic’ is a buzzword to the point of cliché,” say Terrell, “it’s absolutely critical when communicating to the military, veterans, and their families. This is a group of individuals whose professional success depends on attention to details and protocol. We’ve all seen the military advertising featuring the Marine or Sailor with non-regulation grooming standards or a poorly executed salute. Those minor slips might be imperceptible to a general audience, but a military audience knows how to spot a fake. ” 

Though it can feel time consuming, putting in the effort to develop an authentic message for the military audience is well worth it. As Terrell says, “Getting the details right is about sincerity: it tells your audience that service to country really does matter.” 

Read next: If You’re Wondering What Authentic Military Marketing Looks Like, This Is It

Refuel Agency has worked with the military for over 30 years, and we are no stranger to needing to be nimble through the years. With our proprietary research, media networks, and exclusive relationships, we quickly adapt your Brand campaign to reach this audience, where they are.  

Contact us today to learn how our military advertising capabilities can help you. 

Liz Carmo

Liz Carmo brings over 10 years of experience with Refuel Agency. While an expert in all Refuel’s core markets, she quickly formed a passion for the military division. Liz has been a pioneer in the military space with building our partner relationships that allow us to keep competitive pricing and top industry knowledge. Her passion towards the military market, creativity, and deep consumer insights help Refuel’s key brands grow their business.