The day after the election, newspapers sales around the country spiked. According to Editor & Publisher, The Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today sold hundreds of thousands of extra papers at higher prices. Since the election, bundles of newspapers have been sold on eBay for upwards of $200. No wonder the media have been so energized by Obama’s presidency and candidacy—he makes them money. The more Obama appears on front pages, the more papers that media outlets sell. The cover headline on Women’s Health magazine’s January edition, “Michelle Obama’s 7 Secrets to a Sexy Marriage” even piqued my curiosity enough to get me to flip open the magazine.
Just imagine how dismal newspaper sales would have been last year had the election been between John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Obama’s celebrity and glamour probably saved hundreds if not thousands of jobs. It’s little wonder that newspapers are still trying to capitalize on Obama’s star status with irrelevant tabloid articles like “Obama Visits Ben’s Chili Bowl” (which is now experiencing increased business due to his visit).
Obama’s celebrity hasn’t just helped the media. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs of the District of Columbia licensed more than 900 vendors to sell Obama memorabilia on the streets of Washington during his inauguration—the number of licenses was more than four times that of any previous presidential inauguration. The Presidential Inaugural Committee noted that 23,000 people had bought items from its online store, averaging $121 piece. CafePress.com Vice President of Marketing, Amy Maniatis says that the business has for sale 96,000 different Obama related items including 3,230 buttons, 1,730 wall clocks and 1,910 Obama thongs (apparently, Obama’s hope-filled face is supposed to be very arousing). Other Obamarobilia marketed by companies include Baby Obama bibs, Obama hot sauce, Obama Kenyan beer, Topps Obama trading cards, and Obama softball-sized tattoos. Where’s the Obama collectors’ Monopoly edition with inflated currency and double the number of community chest cards?
Obama’s inauguration has generated a substantial economic boon when you factor in travel, lodging, and food for the 1.8 million people that reportedly attended the inauguration, according to the Washington Post. If Obama were to invoke pilgrimages to different parts of the country every few months to hear him speak, then the whole country could benefit from his celebrity. He could even make it into a road trip and use the time on the road to get acquainted with all of the safe states he skipped over during the general campaign.
Marketing experts estimate that Obama’s statement “I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry. They’re going to pry it out of my hands” could net more than $25 million in increased sales for the product. It seems that all Obama needs to do to boost the economy is buy and promote American products. Rather than providing subsidies to the dairy industry, he could appear in “Got Milk?” ads sitting on a stool in a Rodean pose with a milk mustache. The slogan: Three a day helps keep the McCains and Clintons at bay.
Rather than giving loans to Detroit automakers, Obama could start driving their cars and appearing in their ads. Instead of bailing out banks like Wachovia and Bank of America, he could invest some of his own money in them, which would spur others to do the same. He could even start dressing in suits from Target, GAP and Sears. J Crew stock spiked ten percent the day after the inauguration because Obama and his family had reportedly worn J Crew. The company’s website got so much traffic that it had to temporarily shut down.
Other things Obama could do to stimulate the economy are patronize chain restaurants, buy stock in hard-hit companies, and pronounce his birthday a national holiday on which people give gifts of hope and change. He could also raise money for the unemployed by selling autographed pictures (or even better, Obama thongs) and auctioning off his suits. Or like President Bush after 9/11, he could tell the American people to go out and shop.
The country doesn’t need an $800 billion government stimulus package that tries to micromanage the economy. All it needs is a wink and a nod from Obama.