The Dangerous Marketing of the Trump Mug Shot
Besides, she continued, “the U.S. Copyright Act excludes from protection any works created by the federal government, but not state or local governments, so technically the state of Georgia owns the photo, subject to fair use limitations.” In any case, neither concern appears to have stopped anyone.
The Trump campaign has made out very well, as you might expect from a man whose greatest product has always been himself, and whose view on the world often seems to involve the monetization of all things.
Buying any product from a candidate’s store equates directly to money in their campaign bank account, since under federal law any such purchase is actually a donation; the object is the premium you get in return. On Aug. 26, Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, posted on X that since the mug shot was taken, the campaign had taken in $7.1 million, with “$4.18 million yesterday (Friday) alone, the highest grossing day of the entire campaign.”
It’s the same story at the Lincoln Project, where Rick Wilson, a co-founder, said that shot glasses (one of 10 possible mug shot-related products the creative team had tested) were the fastest-selling product the organization had made since 2020. All proceeds, he said, would go toward their media campaign to raise awareness about the “threat to the Republic” they believe Mr. Trump represents.
“It’s a way to capture a moment like this in a way that turns Trump’s notoriety and infamy back on itself,” Mr. Wilson said. To use that notoriety to a different end, the Green Day tee is being sold to benefit Greater Good Music, a charity helping the victims of the Maui wildfires.
What they and all those involved, including the Etsy and Redbubble sellers — who are simply profiting off a cultural convulsion — understand is that, increasingly, our politics aren’t real unless they are advertised. Or maybe they are too real, until they are reduced to the digestible level of advertising.