Corporate America Cashes In With Obama

Big business, the supposedly right-wing, conservative entity that thwarts "progress" and advocates against left-wing economic policies sure doesn't seem to be acting that way of late.

Of course it never really does but that is beside the point. AP reporter Stephen Manning chronicles how corporate America is trying to cash in on Barack Obama's inauguration in an unprecedented, literal selling of a president:

The guys hawking Barack Obama T-shirts and trinkets on the corners of downtown Washington have some new competition in the selling frenzy building up to the president-elect's inauguration Tuesday - Corporate America.

Companies ranging from global giants like soda and snacks maker PepsiCo to a local grocery chain offering cakes with Obama's face in icing are jumping on the Obama commercial wave. Others, like the Swedish home store Ikea, are hoping consumers take Obama's mantra of "change" to heart so much that they go out and buy furniture to mark the change in the White House.

It is relatively rare for corporations leery of alienating consumers with any whiff of politics to associate themselves with a political figure, according to marketing experts. But at a time when many Americans have snapped their wallets shut during a grinding recession, the groundswell of popularity that Obama has generated with his upbeat campaign themes, along with the symbolism he brings as the nation's first black president, are likely too good for many battered retailers to pass up.

"This occasion is more exciting than most presidential inaugurations," said Noel Hankin, senior vice president for multicultural relations for Hennessy, which is selling a limited edition bottle of cognac with the number "44" on it to mark Obama's spot in the line of presidents. "We think this is an appropriate way to celebrate and honor him." [...]

Street vendors in the nation's capital were selling Obama items next to the usual FBI hats and Washington T-shirts well before his election Nov. 4. But the marketing potential around him became clear the next day, when people eager to own keepsakes of the historic event bought out newspapers nationwide. [...]

The television shopping channel QVC is planning special live broadcasts from Washington, which will include parts of the inauguration, parade and an inaugural ball later that night. It is also selling Obama collectibles that range from Obama coins to baseballs painted with the Democratic donkey or Republican elephant.


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