Voting With Your Dollar
The Democratic National Convention was held here in Philadelphia last month, about 4.5 miles south of Promo Marketing offices. If you were in the city, you could see the convention’s influence everywhere, from the demonstrators to the crowded streets, the rallies to the blocked roadways, the ... actually, protests and traffic were all you could see on the streets.
However, if you managed to find a parking spot and wade through the crowds, you also would have witnessed a sea of T-shirts, signs, caps, banners and buttons for—or, often, against—the prospective candidates. Presidential election years always see a spike in promotional product usage, and this year seems to be more defined by campaign merchandise than ever. As we reported in March, advertising spend for the election is predicted to reach $6 billion this year, and individual candidates are dropping millions each month on promotional merchandise. Donald J. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats—which the campaign is buying at a rate of $200,000 per month and selling for $25 a piece—is going to be the most recognized political promotion since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “I Like Ike” buttons in 1952.
Politicians know the effectiveness of promotional products. When we were in Washington, D.C., for PPAI’s L.E.A.D. event earlier this year, everyone we spoke to was familiar with our industry. Why wouldn’t they be? Those members of Congress and their staffs have been utilizing T-shirts, yard signs and other promotions for more than 100 years; Abraham Lincoln is believed to be the first candidate to produce a pin featuring his likeness for the 1860 election. If it was good enough for Lincoln, it’s good enough for everyone.
We’re not in the habit of endorsing candidates in election years—although I’m still working on my “Questlove for President” campaign if anyone wants to help—but we do promote their use of imprinted merchandise, and are happy to find it everywhere. Over the next several months, if you have a client who doubts the power of promotional products, turn on the TV or open a newspaper, and show them images from the most recent campaign rally, filled with flags and banners with a candidate’s logo loud and clear. Better yet, point to the lawn sign he or she likely will have on the front lawn. It’s proof that promotional products work.
If only we could say the same about our politicians.