In a Powerful Veteran’s Day Ad, Ancestry Shows That American Heroes Come From Everywhere

Descendants share stories of bravery and sacrifice

Many nations represent America's military heroes. - Credit by Ancestry

The journey of finding out one’s heritage can be powerful, with surprises at every turn. Everyone has a unique history and Ancestry, long in the game of mapping family trees, has used storytelling as an effective tactic to market their DNA kit.

A 2016 ad, for example, broke the preconceived notions of peoples’ nationalities before revealing the results—which shocked many of those participating. On the Fourth of July last year, the brand brought together direct descendants of those who signed the Declaration of Independence. Now, Ancestry is celebrating the heritage of military veterans by featuring customers who are descendants of Medal of Honor recipients.

The 45-second ad, “Descendants of Honor,” is a sobering, yet hopeful meditation of sacrifice and a reminder that some of America’s military heroes, in fact, didn’t come from this country. In front of small American flags, those in the ad describe their relatives’ harrowing sacrifice. As the shot pans out, one woman, in front of Mexico’s flag says that her relative wasn’t born in America but that “he is a part of American history forever.”

The spot, created by J. Walter Thompson, then reveals others standing in front of a large American flag made from banners representing many countries to emphasize that “American heroes come from everywhere. All believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Beginning today until Nov. 12, Ancestry is making its database of more than 250 million military records available to members and non-members for free, leading up to Veterans Day. Military records include draft cards, service records, and prisoner and casualty lists.

“Ancestry is committed to honoring and sharing the stories of America’s heroes, who come from all over the world,” says Vineet Mehra, CMO at Ancestry, which joined the competitive DNA kit category in 2012, five years after 23andMe launched their product. “Through these records, people can uncover the incredible stories that lie in their family’s past and honor those heroes.”

“I’m particularly proud of our partnership with Ancestry in celebrating the heritage of all veterans. What we’ve made together is a story that carries on through the ages and across mediums,” adds Ben James, chief creative officer of J. Walter Thompson.

Visitors who search the database can also learn more about Wreaths Across America, an organization that remembers fallen U.S. veterans and teaches generations about the freedoms Americans have as a result of veterans’ sacrifices.


Agency: J. Walter Thompson
CCO: Ben James/Brent Choi
Creative Director: Jessica Stewart
Senior Art Director: Reto Oetterli
Senior Copy Writer: Adam Marzec
Executive Strategy Director: Jacob Perez
Business Director: Melissa Krimm
Account Manager: Matthew Klesel
Senior Producer: Gillian Blain
Producer: Natasha Correa
Production Company: 1stAveMachine
Director: Bob Partington & Tucker Bliss
Editor: Chelsey Blackmon
Music: Yessian

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Amy Corr is a contributor to Adweek.
Publish date: November 2, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT