3 Most Famous Political Campaigns involving Promotional Products

3 Most Famous Political Campaigns involving Promotional Products

Whether you are aligned with a party or are not particularly into politics, it is not hard to appreciate the influence that political campaigns had in America.  These campaigns and their giveaways date as far back the very first presidential election. It is almost an American tradition at this point for presidential nominees to spend a lot of money on campaigning and giveaways.  So, what are some of the most famous promotional products in politics? How effective were they? What made these things memorable to the American public at the time? What is more memorable, the message or the item?

Number 3 :  “I Like Ike”(1952)

While this is less about accessories, and more about the message, plenty of promotional products like buttons and bumper stickers, are still cherished collector’s items.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was running or presidential office in 1952. At the time, the television had just become a mainstream source of the news broadcasts, source of advertising, and entertainment. It was a luxury item for homes in America and often made an appearance in pictures of the “American Dream”.

Each presidential campaign up until then made a point of utilizing broadcast technology. This was to both appeal to the idea of American progress and to get their message out to the American people as widely as possible. For instance, Franklin Roosevelt had made a point to use broadcast radio, and it was met with a lot of success and popularity with the American public.

Dwight Eisenhower, however, had a different ace up his sleeve. During WW2, Disney had a history of government commissions to create propaganda for the war effort. Disney delivered so well that they were even nominated for awards at the time. So, it wasn’t much for the then Governor of Illinois to find and hire Disney animators for the creation of a commercial.

The commercial was a jovial little jingle with a crowd of people declaring “I Like Ike!” American audiences associated Dwight Eisenhower with an overwhelming family-friendly positivity that only Disney can muster.  This commercial, along with other advertising campaigns lead to positive results for his election.

He became the first Republican to win the White House in 20 years, with an astonishing 83 percent electoral vote. The alliteration, the inclusion of Disney, and the happiness of the jingle have many generations remembering that election fondly enough to reproduce the slogan on future promotional products decades later.

Number 2: The Barack Obama Chia Pet  (2008)

2008 was a heated election, with both Republicans and Democrats starting to see a stronger political rift than ever before. Barack Obama won the presidential election at the time by adopting a phrase of positivity in the face of a hopeless looking economy.”Yes, We Can”. There was an economic collapse in the same time frame. It wound up rendering a lot of people jobless, homeless and living in a world of inflation. All he needed was a smile on his face, a positive message, and a motivational speech to win over the crowd.

Of course, that isn’t to say that there was no effort in the production of promotional products in the election season. In fact, there were quite a lot of promotional products that ranged from your typical banners and buttons to custom products that land squarely into weird territory.

Chia pet, a company founded in the early 1980s saw its height of popularity at the time. Chia pets, for those unaware of their existence, are little terracotta pots in a special shape with holes. The chia seeds and soil would be inside the “pet” and will grow over time with enough watering.

The company decided that the election would be an inspiration, and made a Barack Obama chia pet. At first, this seems like a good idea. A very odd idea, but somewhat at least a little amusing. However, it saw release in April 2009, well after the election was over. Yikes. Eventually, a  Mitt Romney one saw release in the 2012 election.

Number 3: Cabbage Patch Politics (2012)

Chia pets were not the only ones with wacky promotional products for presidential campaigns.  Another one, who saw its beginning in the 1970s, wanted to create limited edition dolls for the election.  Cabbage Patch Kids saw the height of its popularity, in the ’80s and ’90s. It had the basic premise of the dolls were babies that “grew out of a cabbage patch”.

Both parties’ president and vice president were represented by the cloth doll company as items for auction on Ebay, in 2008, and said they would donate the proceeds to charity. According to another blog,”Both the McCain and Obama dolls went for more than $3,000, but the Palin doll actually went for $19,000. ”

Election fever was certainly abuzz that year. And that was certainly a sign of just how far political influence can reach the American people. Especially with promotional products.  At least a good cause came out of this instance.



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