Sep 30th, 2009
What’s in a T-shirt
We’ve been talking about the trend of anti-Obama T-shirts and pro-Obama T-shirts for awhile now, noting that the infusion of anti-Obama merchandise is to be expected given the artistic cycle of a Presidential election.
Not surprisingly, the trend we’ve seen isn’t isolated to our own website. The AP just ran a story about the falloff of Obama merchandise and its effect on vendors (and yep, we’re mentioned).
The trends we see would indicate that consumers refine their politics through merchandise once a candidate is elected. Whereas “Hope” or “Change” were enough to symbolize everything Obama pre-election, these days both pro and anti-camps tend to focus more on policy. Of course, supporting the President can be as simple as a straightforward “Obama” T-shirt, but we do see increasing numbers of more specific designs on both sides of the political fence – from healthcare to beer summit – that transcend the generalized persona and drill down to specific concerns of the American conscience.
This pattern is a replay of the Bush years, though as noted in the AP article the Bush years gave rise to considerably more ring-spun backlash – both in volume and proportion - than the current Administration has generated. What is similar, though, is that We the People’s initial foray into Bush merchandise was of the generalized pro-Bush/anti-Bush flavor, which then evolved to more specific grievances or support.
What this means for us: with T-shirts serving as an American cultural barometer, the merchandise is getting more individualized, more timely and more headline-driven. Stay tuned.