Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Obama Condoms: Obama is the New ‘Star Wars’ of Political Merchandising

A long time ago n a galaxy far, far away, the kingpin of modern merchandising, “Star Wars: A New Hope,” was born.

Thirty-one years later, the New Hope President-elect Barack Obama, has been resurrected in the over-saturated galaxy of mass merchandising.

In today’s marketing day and age, consumers often ask: “What came first, the movie or the merchandising?” during the branding process -- which usually begins in the womb for most savvy marketing exploiters.

Such is the case for the Obama brand, which has been selling like GOP union-busters over the past year. Obama’s name reigned in over $700 billion dollars in campaign contributions, which includes some of the merchandising the campaign directly tapped into such as t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, 2009 calendars, posters, coffee mugs, and commemorative coins.

But the Obama Buck does not stop here. Other entrepreneurs and opportunists alike are cashing in on the Obama name brand, selling everything from Obama car-seat covers to Obama Action Figures. (Note: It took the Jesus estate nearly 2000 years to get a Jesus Action Figure on store shelves. For the record: when placed side by side, the Obama Action Figure is BIGGER than the Jesus Action Figure.)

Like its predecessor, “Star Wars,” anything is fair game for merchandising the Obama brand, including condoms.

Last year a young New York City entrepreneur Benjamin Sherman started selling Obama condoms -- along with John McCain and Sarah Palin condoms -- through his company Practice Safe Policy. The Obama condom carries the slogan “Use With Good Judgment” and has the following pitch on its Web site:


These are uncertain times. The economy's a ball-buster and the surge went flaccid... but now there's Obama Condoms, for a change you can believe in!


As Seen on TV: Condoms Unite Obama and McCain

In an attempt to close the condom merchandising gap, I imagine it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing glow-in-the-dark light saber condoms popping up behind drugstore counters.

Growing up during the “Star Wars” merchandising surge in the late ‘70s, I resisted the temptation to invest in the pricy Star Wars action figures, models, Death Star Disco Globe and Princess Leigh blow-up doll (batteries not included). Even at a young age I was caught up in ‘80s politics under President Reagan’s watch and wondered why George Lucas didn’t file a trademark suit against the federal government for adopting the nickname “Star Wars” for its Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

Moreover, since the ‘80s were my formative years for satire, I was preoccupied with parody, and “Star Wars” – the movie – was not immune to parody. As was the case in Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs”:

Spaceballs Parody: Merchandising

Obama the Senator, Obama the Bestselling Author, Obama the Campaigner and Obama the President-elect have successfully branded the Obama name, and as the Inauguration approaches next week, it will be interesting to see how Obama the President sells in the market.

Here are a few merchandising trends to look for during his first term:

The Obamamobile: imagine driving a sleek hybrid sports car that has room for the entire family. Equipped with tinted, bullet-proof windows, the Obamamobile is the perfect nocturnal ride for speeding through crime-infested streets left in the wake of Bush’s economic meltdown. Mass merchandising of Obamamobiles will help conceal the President’s whereabouts while in transition at night. All Obamamobiles come with the trademarked bumper sticker, “My Other Car is the Air Force One,” slapped on the rear bumper.

The Obama Diet: Are you sick of all those exercise programs that you actually have to work to shed pounds? Fed up with all of the quick-fix dietary pills? Tired of those lose-weight-while-you’re sleeping weight loss gimmicks that have carried over into the work day?

How would you like a washboard stomach like the one Obama’s girls used to surf on while vacationing in Hawaii?

Introducing the “Obama Diet” -- a guaranteed lifestyle diet that will have you shedding the pounds before you know it. To get started on your Obama Diet, all you have to do create a stressful daily schedule that mirrors Obama’s while he was on the campaign trial for 21 months: 16 hours of rushing from event to event and pretending to like everyone in the process, 2 hours of basketball (schedule permitting), 3 hours of writing speeches and policy papers, 2 hour of meetings with top aids and marketing/merchandising manager, and 1 hour of meditation in lieu of a regular sleep cycle. To help expedite the six-pack abdominals process, we recommend taking up smoking.

The Hoprah Machine: why leave home in search for hope when you can stay at home, sit on the sofa, and have hope pumped through you via the Hoprah Machine. Financed by television’s modern Midas, the Hoprah Machine works like a humidifier as it spews hope into the air of your living room and fills your pores with very little to no effort on your part. Sound hopeful? Nope, it’s Hoprah!