John Cena Defines Patriotism Brilliantly in This Remarkable Ad for Fourth of July

What love for America really means

Headshot of Tim Nudd

"To love America is to love all Americans."

It's a simple proposition—and an urgent one this Fourth of July, when the U.S. has rarely seemed more divided. And it's delivered in bracing fashion by John Cena, who muses on the meaning of patriotism, and the things should unite rather than divide us, in this remarkable new iteration of R/GA's "Love Has No Labels" campaign for the Ad Council.

As he walks through a typical small American town, talking directly to the camera, the pro wrestler—who's becoming a familiar face in the ad world these days—draws a line in the sand early on. Patriotism isn't just pride in one's country, he says. It's love for it. And loving one's country means embracing who and what the country really is—not what you might picture it to be.

Along the way, this small town turns out to be remarkably diverse—the essence of America itself—as we see citizens who are Latino, LGBT, Muslim, senior citizen, African American, disabled, and so on, all just as American as anyone else. The underlying message: To be a true patriot is to accept all Americans regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or ability.

In short, patriotism is love, Cena says, and love has no labels.

"We are America," says the tagline—a line that couldn't be simpler in expressing unity.

In a country gripped by the perpetual noise of a brutal presidential election, the message is clear, timely, thoughtful and skillfully delivered by R/GA—connecting love of individuality (so memorably illustrated the original, megaviral "Love Has No Labels" video) with love of country, which is often used as an excuse to exclude rather than include.

The message comes at a time of toxic political discord in America. But thanks to brand partnerships struck by the Ad Council, the new spot, if not universally lauded, will certainly be noticed far and wide this holiday. 

Campaign partners include The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, State Farm, Google and Johnson & Johnson, which will promote #WeAreAmerica content across their brand channels. In addition to funding the campaign, the partners will also show their support throughout the year with on- and offline activations, including social influencer programs, social messaging, employee engagement, events and more.

"At a time when it feels hard for our country to find common ground, we need to remind audiences that to celebrate America is to celebrate all Americans. We're so proud to continue the 'Love Has No Labels' message as part of the July 4 holiday and throughout the year," said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. " 'We Are America' illuminates what we already know—that Americans today cover the full spectrum of age, sexuality, ability, race and religion. And this message is just as important now as ever."

"Like last year, the power of the campaign came from its honesty. To celebrate the real America is to celebrate the real people that make up this country," said Nick Law, global chief creative officer at R/GA (and himself an immigrant from Australia). "As someone who moved to the U.S. 22 years ago, I've benefited from the openness and generosity of this country. And it's this inclusive spirit that now makes me proud."

The campaign also has support from Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed and WWE.

People can visit and share their own #WeAreAmerica photo from within a Facebook ad unit after watching the video. Twitter has launched a new "Love Has No Labels" emoji—diverse holding hands, available through Aug. 4—for #WeAreAmerica and #LoveHasNoLabels.

BuzzFeed is developing posts to inspire Americans to reflect on their own assumptions of what the "average American" looks like. And along with Cena's starring role in the campaign, WWE will use the WWE Network, TV broadcasts, live events and digital and social media to support the campaign.

Client: Ad Council
Priscilla Natkins, EVP, Director of Client Services
Heidi Arthur, SVP, Campaign Management
Trace Danicich, VP, Campaign Director
Jenn Walters, Campaign Director
Madeline Miller, Assistant Campaign Manager
Ellyn Fisher, SVP, PR and Social Media
Shirley Yeung, Manager, PR and Social Media

Agency: R/GA
Nick Law, Vice Chairman, Global Chief Creative Officer
Eric Jannon, Group Executive Creative Director
Chris Northam, Group Executive Creative Director
Thomas Darlow, Associate Creative Director
Rene Van Wonderen, Associate Creative Director 
Lucia Orlandi, Associate Creative Director
Paul Wood, Associate Creative Director
Eduardo Quadra, Associate Creative Director
Shashank Raval, Associate Creative Director
Bethany Kennedy, Senior Visual Designer
Ria McIlwraith, Designer
Tessa Ndiaye, Experience Designer
Emily Uram, Junior Art Director 
Lukas Pearson, Junior Copywriter 

Cindy Pound, Executive Production Director, Campaign
Jeff Skutnik, Executive Campaign Producer
Lucas Dennison, Digital Producer

Dylan Viner, Group Director, Strategy
Dave Surgan, Strategy Director
Emily Kearns, Senior Social Strategist 
Amy McEwan, Strategist

Micah Topping, Executive Technology Director 
Josh Hansen, Lead Architect
Steve Tsai, Senior QA Engineer
Wade Wojcak, Senior Software Engineer
Daniel Diez, EVP Global Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Management
Suzanne McGee, Director, PR

Stephen Bernstein, Director, Business Affairs 
Kat Friis, Executive Production Director, Content
Leanne Diamond, Post Producer
Ashlye Vaughan, Senior Content Producer
Joanne Rotella, Senior Manager, Business Affairs
Shima Green, Stills Photographer
Madeline Gioia, Coordinator, Business Affairs
William Morel, Art Producer
Danielle Sessler, Associate Producer
Shakirah Tabourn, Production Assistant

Production Company – MJZ
Director – Rocky Morton
Executive Producer – Emma Wilcockson
Line Producer – Larry Shure
Director of Photography – David Lanzeberg
Editorial – Rock Paper Scissors
Editor – Dan de Winter
Original Music – Human/ Phillip Glass
color- Nice Shoes, Chris Ryan
Flame: Nice Shoes –Jason Farber
Mix: Nylon studios, Dave Robertson
Music supervision: wool and tusk

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.