run it up the flagpole

The phrase run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes is credited to Madison Avenue admen of the 1950s. The phrase, and many others like it, is used in the context of brainstorming or “spitballing ideas” and refers to making a suggestion to see if people like it.

The earliest use of the phrase that I can find is in the April 1957 film 12 Angry Men, directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Reginald Rose, where it is uttered by Juror #12, a feckless advertising executive played by Robert Webber:

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