Rob Portman’s Epic Flag Ad

By FP1 Strategies

What do Iwo Jima, the Moon Landing and former Rob Portman’s 2016 reelection campaign have in common? Senator Portman filmed a memorable spot for his race against former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland at Annin Flagmakers in Coshocton, OH. Annin made the American flags that were planted on the Moon in 1969 and hoisted at Iwo Jima in World War II.

In honor of Flag Day 2024, we are looking back at Portman’s award-winning ad campaign in 2016. At the start of the race, Senator Portman trailed Ted Strickland by 9 points and was widely viewed as one of the most endangered Republican Senators of the cycle. Strickland, an old-school labor union Democrat from Eastern Ohio, was trying to brand Portman as the “Best Senator China’s Ever Had” with a laser-like focus on Portman’s role as U.S. Trade Representative under President George W. Bush.

Fueled by an $18 million statewide advertising campaign, FP1 helped Senator Portman flip the script on Strickland. We used blue-collar testimonials from steel workers, coal miners and other hardworking Ohioans to define Senator Portman as a fighter for American manufacturing jobs. Our “Flag Factory” spot was the closing ad of the campaign and it helped solidify Portman as a true champion for American workers. Filmed on a picturesque factory floor that churns out 8 million American flags a year, this memorable spot helped shatter the entire premise of Strickland’s campaign.

On Election Day, Portman crushed Strickland by a margin of 57% to 41% and won 200,000 more votes than Donald Trump. According to exit polls, among the half of the electorate that believed trade was destroying American jobs, Portman beat Strickland by a margin of 74% to 23%. Portman won white voters without a college degree by a margin of 68% to 28%. He even carried union households by a margin of 59% to 40%.

FP1’s advertising campaign for Senator Portman won the Gold Pollie Award for Best in Show and our “Coal Miners” ad won the Gold Pollie Award for Best U.S. Senate TV Ad.

Watch our Annin “Flag Factory” spot and other blue-collar ads from Portman’s trendsetting campaign:



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