Could an average American pass a citizenship test?
Johnnie Walker subtly raises this question in its latest "Keep Walking America" ad. The spot, by Anomaly, is the latest immigrant-friendly ad by the Diageo-owned brand, which grabbed headlines last year with a spot timed with Election Day that included an English and Spanish voiceover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."
The new ad, called "Citizenship," shows a Hispanic man taking a citizenship test and later quizzing his white friends at a bar on one of the questions: Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? His buddies come up short when they misfire with guesses including Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock. "None of you would have passed," says the man, as he proudly reveals the correct answer, Thomas Jefferson.
The spot will surely provoke a reaction in the current political climate with its suggestion that immigrants might know a bit more about American history than people who were born here. "Becoming an American citizen is a moment filled with pride and accomplishment--especially after the efforts and sacrifices many people have to endure to reach that moment," Johnnie Walker says in a statement. "The spot showcases that America has always been and should always remain a progressive nation, built on values that celebrate and reward people from all colors and creeds."
Immigrants do pretty well on the U.S. citizenship test. CNN reports that in 2016, the pass rate was 91 percent.
Earlier this year, Diageo trolled Donald Trump with outdoor ads for Smirnoff that stated the vodka was "made in America but we'd be happy to talk about our Russian ties under oath."
As part of the new Johnnie Walker campaign, the brand partnered with actor Wilmer Valderrama to surprise new American citizens outside a naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles. The effort included a pop-up portrait studio where photographer Castro Frank, the son of immigrants, took photos of the new citizens. The event also included a performance of "This Land is Your Land" by L.A. band Chicano Batman, also featured in this Johnnie Walker-sponsored music video.