President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again rope hats were the undisputed winner of the political swag wars during the 2016 presidential election. Now, Trump’s position as the politician with a golden touch on branded merchandise could be under threat from a rival who also might want his chair in the Oval Office – Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Sales of Warren-related merchandise are soaring. That includes both official branded merchandise and the plethora of independently made products promoting her on Etsy and other online sites.
In line with the slogan-driven merchandise that worked so well for Trump, Warren products that are especially popular include items that are emblazoned with, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” The phrase is taken from a very public scolding Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave Warren earlier this year on the Senate floor, as she and fellow Democrats challenged current Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ nomination to that position.
Fewer than 24 hours later, designers were already working on merchandise that turned McConnell’s reprimand into a line of feminist solidarity, while the hashtag #LetLizSpeak made the rounds on social media.
“We wanted to capture the energy of the ‘she persisted’ moment, but also incorporate themes that have been familiar to Sen. Warren’s brand for years,” Frank Chi, a Democratic media strategist, told POLITICO. Chi has been developing Warren’s official logo, digital videos, graphics and Web properties. “It’s incredibly exciting to see the energy from ‘she persisted’ continue to this day. But we also want to make sure folks know there’s official merch they can buy that will help her win reelection.”
The campaign told POLITICO that it has sold 20,000 “Persisted” T-shirts with its combative boxing glove motif. At $24.99 a piece, that comes to almost $500,000.
Besides offering a lucrative revenue source for Warren, the merch also attracts people in a subtle way. “If some people are turned off to the political process but see something humorous and poignant, it’s a way to connect that you don’t always get through traditional ads,” said Thomas Phillips, director of e-commerce for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last year.
Meanwhile, independent Etsy designers are offering prayer candles, cuff bracelets, wall prints, laptop decals and much more, while a Kickstarter campaign by Brooklyn-based FCTRY recently raised $50,000 (its original goal was $15,000) to produce Elizabeth Warren action figures. Across the web, “Persisted” items include bracelets, bodysuits, cross-stitch patterns, phone cases, wine glasses and coasters. Some Warren fans have even gotten permanent tattoos that read “Nevertheless, she persisted.”