A Schwag Look Back at Obama’s First Year
Today marks the end of Barack Obama’s first year in the U.S. Presidency. He came in with a promise of change and focus on many issues plaguing Americans. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 50% of American approved Obama’s job performance, which is down 18% from the day he took office. You can debate if he is on the path of accomplishing what he has said that he would do or not Barack Obama did something unique that had not been done by any other President candidate. During his campaign, he used social media and a variety of promotional products that he labeled “Brand Obama.”
There was a variety of promotional products to choose from
Obama didn’t use the usual political types of promotional products that other Presidents have used (e.g. buttons, posters, t-shirts). “Brand Obama” could be found on any kind of promotional product that you could think of. You saw people with posters, bumper stickers, mugs, apparel, and many other types of schwag with the Obama label on it. Additionally, they had an artistic touch that made them feel more like art than a regular promotional product. There is even a replica of the pen Barack Obama uses to sign documents being sold online. Even for his health care initiative, Obama created a logo to go alongside it. There was a huge controversy that occurred due to Obama’s health care logo, but it still helped the American public distinguish between Obama’s health care plan from someone else’s.
Artists contributed their vision of Obama
Many artists, famous or undiscovered, created promotional products for Obama. During his inauguration, Obama had Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Jay-Z, as well as many others performing at the inauguration balls. Many rap artists created songs about the first African-American President. There was also a group of artists who formed “Artists for Obama” group that provide their artistic viewpoint on Brand Obama. One of the most famous art piece to come out of that was by Shepard Fairey who created the “Hope” art portraits, which was acquired by the National Art Gallery on January 7, 2009. Just like there were pro-Obama art being produced, there was even anti-Obama art as well. The most famous one derived from Fairey’s “Hope” art piece. It portrayed Obama as the Joker, and it was made by Firas Alkhateeb. Even though the anti-Obama art was negative, it still helped establish Obama as a brand.
Obama created a distinctive image that was free to interpretation
Obama didn’t ban the use of his image or logo to be used by anyone. If someone wanted to create a promotional product using his likeness, there were no restrictions in doing so. For instance, Obama created a distinct logo that is a simple ‘O’ with the American colors running through it. There is a site, Logobama, that allows visitors to create their own version of the Obama logo. Obama also used simple words – Hope and Change – that would be easy for anyone to remember. Eventually, people started thinking of Brand Obama when these two words were used. These words were also used to create many promotional products and art that symbolized Obama.
Barack Obama has been the U.S. President for a year now. Whether you are for or against him, one thing that you can agree on is that Obama was very smart in the way that he used social media and promotional products. He did it in a way that was very unique from any President before. You can walk down the street and see someone sporting Obama apparel, a bumper sticker, or listening to a song referring to him. Obama definitely changed the way U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates use schwag.