Election Campaign T-shirts – Who/When/How

political t-shirt

Layout QEV-99 customized for Jackson election

Campaign Season
If you happen to live in a swing state like I do, you know that once again campaign season is upon us. Pretty soon we will have to turn our televisions off to avoid the never ending ads and lower the volume of our radios between commercial breaks. But to those of us who are involved in the process, we know that the work of running for a political office does not begin with airing television or radio ads. In the months leading up to that there are parades that need to be marched and doors that need to be knocked. And to distinguish one group from another in a parade, campaigns purchase t-shirts to give and sell to supporters and to those who are marching for them. This market has the advantage of being constant. Every two years there are congressional campaigns with incumbents needing to purchase new t-shirts for supporters and challengers trying feverishly broaden their name recognition. There are races for the State House and the State Senate every two and four years respectively and the same problem of spreading name recognition presents itself yet again. Every four years most states have elections at the state level for Governor and other offices. And of course there is the holy grail of shirt sails, a presidential campaign. Even before we have two candidates vying for the White House in November, there has to be primaries and often a crowded field of candidates can mean big business for the company producing shirts for them.

But t-shirts are only one part of the campaign. There is of course everyone’s favorite lawn ornament, the yard sign. Then there is the always stylish car decal, the bumper sticker. The almost never ending list of products employed by campaigns provides a treasure trove for the company or companies that supplies those products to those candidates. Hats, coffee mugs, buttons, rulers, pencils and so on are all major instruments used on the campaign trail.

A Win Goes a Long Way
As would be expected in any political race, the objective of the candidate is to win. Successful campaign managers often times get picked up by other campaigns hoping that they will replicate the same results. While a t-shirt company has less to do with the overall win of a campaign, you can bet that other campaigns will look at what made one successful and often times will follow that text book to victory.  If that means hiring the same company to make shirts, they will do that. At the very least, a successful campaign may mean a repeat customer in the next election.

Price Point
Remember that political campaigns are cash strapped and are interested in making every dollar count. Offering a competitive rate is crucial because they often buy in bulk and if another company has as much as a dime on you, you will not get their business.

Attention Getters
Here is a list of ways to grab the attention of a candidate or group when marketing to them.

  •  Discounts – A discount for a bulk order will attract customers drastically. As mentioned many campaigns are cash strapped and will stretch every penny they have.
  • Speed – This is a fast paced market. Things are rapidly changing and the ability to ship as fast as the tide changes is important. If someone says something and their opponent wants it on a bumper sticker in a few days, then being able to do that is crucial.
  • Colors don’t matter – The typical campaign shirt is white or blue, unless asked to do otherwise. Don’t waste your stock on colors that will probably not be used.
  • Designs – keep them simple


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