For decades, Refuel Agency has worked closely with the special Military + Veteran 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 unique  military advertising campaigns done right.

A Refresher of Where Military Appreciation Month Came 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 on 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.

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.

1. Give Back to the Military Audience: a VSO approach

The military community has made incredible sacrifices for our country. They appreciate and are loyal to brands that support them and their community—and understand the unique challenges they face. Research from our Military Explorer Series™ shows that 33% of active duty military are loyal to brands that support veteran service organizations (VSOs). The military community takes notice when your brand is invested in them in the long-term. 

At Refuel, we’ve been a proud partner of Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB), a VSO dedicated to enriching veterans’ lives through connection to physical and social activities. This year, Team RWB is teaming up with Yuengling, America’s oldest brewery, in offering co-branded cans during the month of May in appreciation of the military community.

“As America’s Oldest Brewery, we are forever in awe of the brave and dedicated men and women who have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our country’s freedom, honor, and independence,” said Jennifer Yuengling, Vice President of Operations and 6th Generation Brewer at D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. “After working with Team RWB for several years, the launch of the Stars & Stripes program seemed like a natural next step for progressing a partnership with an organization that shares our same commitment to our nation’s military. Our limited-edition Lager cans are a part of our continued commitment to helping Team RWB build onto their invaluable resources and support services for America’s veterans.”

“We are extremely honored to receive the generous support of Yuengling via their Stars & Stripes program and new camo cans,” said Mike Erwin, Executive Director of Team RWB. “These donations will enable us to significantly expand our programs and impact the health and wellness of our nation’s veterans.”

Yuengling has been supporting the U.S. military for many years. Yuengling has donated more than $500,000 since 2016 to various military-centric organizations including Team RWB, Operation Gratitude, and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) in support of their collective efforts for our nation’s heroes.

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

2. 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

3. Showing Support Authentically

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

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 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

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

Liz Carmo

Liz Carmo brings over 14 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.