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

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