Say what you like about Trump’s administration, but they sure know how to sell things people don’t need.
I mean, they managed to sell the idea of a real estate tycoon-cum-reality TV host as the next president of the United States, so selling plastic straws in an age where almost everyone else on the planet is trying to avoid them should be a walk in the park.
And, unfortunately, it turns out it was, as recent reports suggest the Trump campaign’s latest piece of merchandise has so far raised half a million dollars by selling packs of 10 Trump-branded plastic straws for $15 ($1.50 per straw).
Almost a half million dollars in straw sales! Wow.
Get your recyclable @realDonaldTrump straws today.
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) July 26, 2019
The straws only went on sale on July 19, but according to Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, they’ve already hit almost half a million dollars in sales.
As the Trump website states: ‘Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today’, POTUS himself can’t take all the credit though, as it turns out it was Parscale who came up with the idea of selling Trump straws.
Coincidentally tweeting the day before the straws went on sale, and blaming the Liberals for a paper straw’s ineffectiveness, Parscale clutched: ‘I’m so over paper straws.’
I’m so over paper straws. #LiberalProgress
This is exactly what they would do to the economy as well. Squeeze it until it doesn’t work. pic.twitter.com/zKfiZiSHV5
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) July 18, 2019
According to Politico, the campaign manager – who spent almost 20 years in the marketing and advertising industry – fired off his tweet just before a flight. He then spent the rest of the flight liaising with campaign advisers Andy Surabian and Katrina Pierson on how to market the straws (Twitter, natch). Meanwhile, aides on the ground contacted the campaign’s promotional products supplier and, hey presto, the straws were a reality.
Of course, being the businessman he is, and assembling a campaign team of like-minded individuals, Trump and his administration are well aware of the power of selling – even if it is just plastic straws and MAGA hats.
As Gerrit Lansing, president of the GOP online donor platform WinRed, said: ‘I think merchandising is going to be one of the big stories of the cycle.’
Eric Wilson, who was digital director on Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid, told Politico:
It’s almost guerrilla marketing. What you’re seeing is the president using his bully pulpit and then the campaign being nimble enough to capitalize on it.
While Zac Moffatt, digital director from Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said of Trump’s campaign team:
They know what they stand for. They literally understand their brand, they know what works, and they’re not scared of it.
At least they can say these straws are meant to suck, unlike the rest of Trump’s time as president.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.