September 3, 2019
If America is threatened by a hurricane, that means it’s time for Donald Trump to get right down to the job, put his shoulder to the wheel and sell campaign merchandise.
That might not seem like the typical behavior of a president, but it is for our marketer-in-chief. While every previous president had prior public service, Trump does not, which has become glaringly obvious when he has been called upon to respond to natural disasters. Instead, Trump made a career out of selling his products, so is it any surprise that time and again, if cameras are on him in an emergency, he reverts to his old job, promoting Trump merchandise?
Trump canceled a planned presidential visit to Poland this weekend, opting instead to set up a hurricane command center at Camp David. On Saturday, the White House distributed photos of the president hard at work with his team. The president, you’ll note from the pictures below, is the only one wearing a hat. Inside.
If you’ve seen the hat with USA on the front, 45 and a flag on the sides, and TRUMP on the back before, it’s because he wears it a lot—and his campaign website notes that it’s the only place to buy it. While the blue hat he wore at Camp David was not available for purchase as of the time of this writing, red, white and camo versions were–for $40.
If this all sounds familiar, think back to Hurricane Harvey…where he did the exact same thing. He did it again visiting the California wildfires. This has become a recurring theme for Trump, using tragedies as opportunities to market the Trump brand. Before he was president, Trump famously gave an interview on a TV news broadcast on 9/11 shortly after the planes hit the Twin Towers and bragged that he now had the tallest building in downtown Manhattan (he didn’t).
Promoting his merchandise is not limited to tragedies, however; the hat has shown up in his typical presidential duties, from talking to press at the White House to meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan. We shouldn’t be surprised, of course, this is a man who spent his entire previous career shilling all sorts of products with his name on them, he doesn’t know any different.
The Trump campaign, in an act of marketing synergy, took out ads promoting 25% off hats and other products on their website, this weekend only. The ads even claim the sale was on the president’s command.
Of course, this wasn’t the only time he was spotted over Labor Day weekend wearing a campaign hat–or promoting wide world of Trump-branded ways to spend money. Trump quickly abandoned monitoring the hurricane from Camp David this weekend to make multiple promotional appearances at his Virginia golf course, spotted apparently wearing a red campaign hat this time.
As for the state visit to Poland that Trump dropped out of to go to his golf course, Mike Pence went in his stead, before heading to Ireland. While in Ireland, he’ll fly back and forth across the country to attend meetings in Dublin while staying in Doonbeg at President Trump’s golf course. Because in the Trump administration, every official action is a marketing opportunity, even disaster response.