By coincidence, on the same day that I wrote about the marketing of President Obama, I ran across a news article that, I think, highlights the issue.
According to ABC News, the Obama re-election campaign is suing a website called Demstore.com that is selling t-shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons with the Obama campaign logo. The lawsuit charges that the website is infringing on the re-election campaign’s trademark. The article also notes that every sale of such items by Demstore.com means lost revenue for the Obama re-election campaign, and also means a lost opportunity for the campaign to get name, address, and other contact information that would allow the t-shirt purchaser to be approached for additional campaign contributions later.
The owner of Demstore.com says he’s worked cooperatively with Democratic candidates in the past and is disappointed at being sued. He says his website supports only Democrats and is used primarily by state and country Democrats who don’t want to pay the high prices charged by the Obama campaign website. Whereas a single t-shirt on the Obama website costs $30, you can get 500 t-shirts from Demstore.com for $5.49 each. (I suppose that bit of information tells you something about the Obama campaign’s product mark-up, doesn’t it?)
It’s odd to think that a presidential candidate would object to someone else selling shirts with messages that support that candidate’s election, but we apparently have moved past that innocent notion. In politics today, business is business.