Most of us can identify a standard commercial and we usually know someone is trying to sell us something. But what happens when the “product” is a political candidate and the “ad” is a tweet, or Facebook post?
In her new book “Political Brands,” Stetson University law professor and campaign finance expert Ciara Torres-Spelliscy says that candidates are increasingly using commercial techniques like repetition and micro-targeting in order to sell themselves and their policy positions.
Torres-Spelliscy says President Trump used political branding successfully during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“One of the ways that he was able to raise an enormous amount of money was by selling his red “Make America Great Again” hats,” she said.
The 2020 Democratic candidates are getting in on the action. Elizabeth Warren has “Warren Has a Plan For That” merchandise, Julián Castro’s merch store features “Adiós Trump” apparel, Pete Buttigieg’s “Pete for America” campaign site showcases totes and hoodies with the phonetic spelling of his name, “Boot Edge Edge” while Andrew Yang is selling hats that read “MATH,” which stands for “Make America Think Harder.”