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I can’t believe I am writing this again. I shared this blog post nearly 8 years ago about how Barack Obama’s merchandise was incredibly superior to that of John McCain, and how these differences said much about their campaigns and their chances of winning in a modern world. Unfortunately, all of the images are broken, but the sentiment is there.

I decided to take a look after reading about the reveal of Trump’s new logo and how terrible it is. It was so torn up that they appear to have already changed it. (I couldn’t find a quality version online as well, as seen in the image at the top of this post.) I also noticed the terrible hat that Donald Trump was wearing a few weeks back, and I was shocked at the Times New Roman of it all.

Here we go. The images will be large but I think it is important to look at everything, so we are going there.

Trump Apparel

OK, first of all, is that fleece vest a tribute to Chris Christie? I really strongly associate fleece items with zippers to Hurricane Sandy-era Christie.

The rest of these items are certainly consistent in their complete basicness. The only one with a bit of anything approaching humor is the one near the top with #newyorkvalues on it. How can they not have explored variety in their merch? If you are not interested in being a literal billboard to support this candidate, you aren’t going to buy these shirts.

Clinton Apparel

This is NOT all of the Hillary Clinton apparel, this is the Made for History items – a new version of the Runway for Change collection that was extremely successful and sold out during Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. This is just a subset of the huge variety of apparel available from I might be totally biased, since my favorite type of merch for anything are items that don’t broadcast a single idea, but are more like an inside joke on a shirt. Lyrics, or a character name, or a phrase like “Make Herstory.” HRC’s website has simple shirts with her logo or name on them as well, but they aren’t the ONLY option.

Trump Accessories

OK, I just figured it out. This Trump merchandise looks like bootleg merch, like it was designed and created by someone looking to make a buck while putting in the least amount of effort. I can’t unsee it now.

Clinton Accessories

The difference is very clear here. There seems to be a similar attitude from Clinton’s merch team as her social media team, they are addressing some of the basic misogyny surrounding her campaign by offering a “woman card” and a pillow embroidered with “a woman’s place is in the White House.” There are small items like enamel pins and keychains, and even a gift card option when you just can’t pick between the variety of items for your favorite HRC supporter.

In closing, I truly cannot believe that the Trump team isn’t taking a page from the Clinton team (and really, from Obama’s teams) on having a variety of merch available that is well-designed and appeals to the widest possible group of people. I am not surprised, given the logo fiasco that has just taken place, but it seems so obvious that in 2016 you would offer this wide variety of items available.


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Comparing the Merchandise: Obama vs. McCain

by Jamie Sanford on October 17, 2008

(NOTE 9/5/12: I’m disappointed in myself that I linked to images directly and didn’t think to upload them to the blog. I’m leaving the post here anyway because I really liked it.)

Anyone who talks to me for more than a minute could probably figure out that I will be voting for Barack Obama in a few weeks.  I’ve voted Democratic since I could vote, but I find it unfortunate that in the times I have been able to vote for president, my vote was not just about really wanting my candidate to be the president, but really wanting the other candidate NOT TO BE PRESIDENT.

Anyway, so I made a donation to Obama’s campaign today. I know how much things cost and I did my little part to help them get their message out to voters.  I didn’t give a lot, but I do believe that my little bit mixed with the little bits from others adds up and that works for me.

In August, the Boston Globe ran a story about how Obama was already outselling McCain on the streets with non-official merchandise.

So, while on, I checked out the merchandise area.  Examples of the items available:

Jay Z’s Obama T-shirt.

Obama Charm!

Diane von Furstenberg Obama tote bag.

There are many more, there’s a whole “Runway to Change” section where many designers have developed items to be sold in the store.  What I like about it is that there appears to have been thought put into these items – these are things that people definitely want to purchase because they relay a message and are also fun to wear.  This ranks highly with me, whether people like it or not, marketing is important in elections, especially ones of this magnitude.  If the Obama campaign can offer 35 different t-shirts with different looks and messages, I’m sure that more people will be wearing them and getting their message across.

However, am I surprised?  Not at all when I check out to search for merchandise.  First there’s this unfortunate-looking landing page telling us that the McCain products are being sold by for-profit companies and are not getting any money back to the campaign.  Even if the McCainians didn’t intend initially to have their own store, I would think they would see what the other side is doing and jump on it.  Either way, here is some of the available merchandise:

Palin Power magnet, complete with lipstick tube as the I.

The “country first” t-shirt.  Note that there are no shirts created in a ladies’ fit in the McCain shop,

Oh but they made men’s t-shirts in PINK for the women.  THANKS.

Also, here’s what’s on the home page of


Even if I was a moose-hunting Republican, I’m sure I would be able to see that McCain’s side is failing on the merchandising front.

Many people might dismiss candidate merchandise as a silly thing to focus on, but how many conversations are started by someone wearing a pin or a shirt or having a sticker on their car?  Obama’s camp sees the value in using their supporters as walking billboards, and also see that there will be many more billboards if they get to choose the message across their chest.

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