While Trump Campaign Uses Quarantine for Merch Ideas, Biden Campaign Store Sits Idle
As most states are still operating under some form of stay-at-home order, businesses have had to pivot and adapt. This includes the way political figures have done their campaigning.
The Trump Campaign, for example, has been marketing branded merchandise that specifically appeals to people under quarantine and stay-at-home orders. These have been things like (reportedly) face masks, and even a puzzle for people to do while they’re stuck at home.
In fact, the Trump Campaign has been highly active during this time. According to NPR, the campaign paid about $4.7 million to vendors of promotional merchandise in March—more than any month since September 2016, in the heat of the first election.
"Whether it's the over one million red MAGA hats sold, plastic straws or the new Trump-themed puzzle to keep people entertained during quarantine, the campaign merchandise lets supporters be part of this movement with high-quality, made in America Trump gear and products," Sarah Matthews, the deputy press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in a statement to NPR.
The Trump Campaign has taken some heat for the moves. Some critics thought emails to supporters advertising branded merchandise during an international crisis were in poor taste.
“President Trump knows the past few weeks have been extremely difficult for Americans from all across the Nation,” the email, sent about two weeks ago, said. “He appreciates your unwavering support during this time and wants you to know that it has not gone unnoticed. He wanted to do something special for you to show you how much your loyalty means to him, so he’s asked us to give you EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to get our Official Trump-Pence Pint Glasses.”
On the other end of the 2020 campaign is Joe Biden, whose campaign activity has been just about the polar opposite of the President’s.
The Biden for President campaign store currently displays a message that order fulfillment has been temporarily suspended to protect staff.
The store is still accepting orders on items like T-shirts, stickers, buttons and more pretty standard campaign fare, but there’s no guarantee on when any of those products would actually end up in the hands of supporters.
Obviously, doing any sort of business right now is difficult. That’s an understatement. But it’s an especially fine line to walk between capitalizing on an opportunity for branded merchandise and coming off as insensitive. That said, there’s also a line between giving the situation the proper precaution it merits and inaction, as we see in the case of Biden's store. Especially as we get closer to November, and everyone is glued to the news more than ever, these months of actively marketing or sitting idle could be make or break moments in the 2020 election.