Political Campaign Swag
While quantitative information about political campaign swag was limited, we were able to find that, usually, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and, most recently, hats have been a few of the most-sold items throughout the political campaigns.
- In the 2016 political campaign for the race of president, following insights could be found relating to the sales of campaign swag:
--Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders' campaign sold 800,000 individual items between the year 2015 and 2016. Out of these 800,000 items, there were 207,000 t-shirts and 44,000 coffee mugs.
--However, it was found that during the 2016 presidential campaign “not as many people wanted to wear a Clinton t-shirt.”
- During the presidential race of 2016, the following was found by Ted Jackson who ran an unofficial online Trump store.
--"Republican candidate Trump's campaign swag included t-shirts, hats and yard signs."
--"With these campaign swags, Trump outsold the other Republican candidates 20 to one."
- As seen during Barack Obama's campaign, the most popular campaign swag was the red, white and blue Hope poster.
- According to Cafepress, during the campaign of 2016 swag sales were up 20 percent over the preceding presidential election, owing to a new category of merchandise saying ‘anybody, but these two.’
- During the 2016 campaign, the popularity of Donald Trump's hat was clearly visible as his campaign spent about a $1 million more on hats than it did on polling.
- For the republican candidate Donald Trump, a red ballcap, featuring “Make America Great Again” was the most visible item in Trump's arsenal, as noted by Advertising Specialty Institute.
- It was also noted that during the 2016 presidential campaign, democrat candidate Hillary Clinton's supporters ordered 2.3 million bumper stickers as opposed to the 800,000 ordered by the Trump supporters.
- According to a poll by the Google Consumer Survey Network, which asked the respondents “If you received a bumper sticker from Trump and Clinton, which one would you be most willing to put on your car?” 52% of people voted for the Clinton stickers compared to the 48% gathered for Trump.
- In a recent bid to bring out a new campaign swag, Libertarians introduced the “Guns Save Lives” t-shirts in their campaign.
We began our research by looking into sources that provide data and analysis relating to election spending, income, and modes of contribution such as Opensecrets, PewResearch, Ballotopedia. Although Opensecrets contained detailed break-up of contribution received, expenses made, it was not broken down by items or merchandise items that were used to raise contributions. We also looked into campaign-wise case studies and how campaign swags were used to attract voters. Unfortunately, case studies on election campaigns from sites such as HBR and Brrokings were only focused on the overall marketing strategy and its broad-level executions and no granular insights were presented about the popularity of campaign swags.
As such, we decided to visit the websites of each of the parties, namely the Democratic Party, the Republican party, and the Libertarian party. We mainly looked through their online shops to see if there were any mention of trending items or items purchased frequently. We also looked into the sites of individual candidates such as Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders to verify if there were any popular items in their campaign merchandise section. We also tried to verify if different age groups such as Millennials or GenX had any preferred campaign merchandise but information on the subject was very limited.
As a final resort, we went through interviews of Kenneth Pennington, Bernie Sanders' campaign digital director, and through manufacturers' and retailers' website such as Tigereye Promotions and CafePress. Although these companies often provided insights as to what items were doing good overall, they were mostly not backed by numbers nor were they specific to different age-groups.