Kitsch And Collectible: It’s All About The Merchandise As Election Campaigns Sell Everything From Flyswatters To Coffee Mugs

By Brian Niemietz
New York Daily News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Brian Niemietz reports, “the 24-hour news cycle has sped up the rate at which swag is sold. If something zippy comes out of a candidate’s mouth on Tuesday, it’s on a T-shirt Wednesday.”

New York

With the election weeks away, the candidates are hitting the trail 

The dizzying pace of this presidential campaign is tough to put into words – unless you’re in the merchandising game, where smacking the latest zinger onto the front of a shirt, hat, mug or even a flyswatter can mean the difference in cashing-in and getting stuck holding the bag.

The fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head during the 2020 vice presidential debate barely had time to find its next host before the opposing campaign was selling “Truth Over Flies” flyswatters. The $10 keepsakes sold out by morning. By Thursday afternoon, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame was taking pre-orders for $25 plus shipping for statuettes featuring Pence and his pest.

“We have a ‘Strike While the Iron’s Hot’ poster in the office — it’s critical to get these things out right away, as there will be something new the next day,” museum co-founder Phil Sklar told the Daily News.

Once his office saw social media swarming with buzz about the fly, they went to work.

“Our Dr. Fauci bobblehead became our best-selling of all time within a week of being released, which is another testament to merchandise related to politics,” Sklar said.

From “I Like Ike” buttons to “I’m With Her” tees, every election cycle produces political merchandise that leaps from fashionable to retro right after the ballots are counted. This fall’s fashions are no exception.

While what’s in style is subjective, the 24-hour news cycle has sped up the rate at which swag is sold. If something zippy comes out of a candidate’s mouth on Tuesday, it’s on a T-shirt Wednesday.

There’s no better example than the “Will You Shut Up, Man,” T-shirts that popped-up on The Biden Victory Fund site shortly after Democratic candidate Joe Biden dropped that line on President Trump during their chaotic debate on Sept. 29. Face masks and coffee mugs emblazoned with that logo also popped-up on the retail site Etsy. One of those keepsakes parodies Trump’s red and white “Make America Great Again” caps.

Trump’s “MAGA” branding campaign will be remembered as one of the most effective in election history. The president used that magic this week to help the Proud Boys sell back-to-school gear when he refused to renounce hate groups and white supremacy at his debate with Biden.

“Stand back and standby,” Trump told the violent right-wing movement at that toxic showdown.

T-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts baring that logo and the letters “PB” were printed almost immediately, though Amazon announced days later that it would ban them from its site.

The president’s health is still a big question mark, but that didn’t stop a crafty entrepreneur from minting a $100 “Trump Defeats COVID” commemorative coin that is available for pre-order now.

Crafty Trump supporters are also cashing in on timely T-shirts that say “Fill That Seat,” which became available after the Sept. 18 death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Since anything can happen on Election Day, the GOP is rushing to put a conservative in that seat while they control the White House and the senate.

That tee, which comes in sizes small through 3XL, sold-out quickly on the official internet store set-up to reelect the president.

While Tax Day isn’t until spring, Joe Biden’s campaign put “I paid more income taxes Donald Trump” merchandise online following a bombshell New York Times report on Sept. 27 that accused the president — who claims to be a billionaire — of paying $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and nothing at all in ten of the 15 years prior. That T-shirt costs $30 before taxes.

On the more timely side, sells watches that literally countdown the days before the election. Fittingly, the timepieces, which are made with Apple Watch bands, cost $20.20. They skew anti-Trump, featuring one design emblazoned with words like “Stormy” and “Treason” following hashtags.

It’s just not the two-legged who are getting dressed-up for Election Day. A MAGA dog collar on the president’s site, said to be made in the USA, is the perfect gift for those who prefer bones to ballots.
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Coffee mugs on the Campaigns and Elections website allow citizens to start their morning with a Democratic or Republican theme, though there’s a less political option that simply reads “I love yard signs” with a picture of a lawn sign. The company also sells a mug that says “I hate yard signs.”

While his name won’t be on the ballot in many states, “Birthday Party” candidate Kanye West is a presidential candidate in 2020. Tees promoting the “Famous” rapper’s run for the White House reading “Kanye 2020 Vision” can be purchased on Amazon for $11.95. When future generations look back at the oddity of the 2020 election, West election merchandise might best illustrate how yes, the nation went temporarily insane, but it could have been crazier.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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