Saturday, August 26, 2023
The mug shot of former US President Donald Trump, taken as he was arrested on multiple felony charges, has become the unexpected focus of a merchandise frenzy.
The image, captured at a Georgia courthouse, shows Trump with his signature red tie, groomed hair, and a stern expression. This snapshot of his legal woes is now adorning t-shirts, mugs, shot glasses, posters, and even bobblehead dolls.
Supporters and adversaries alike are capitalising on the attention-grabbing image. Trump's Save America committee is selling "NEVER SURRENDER!" mug shot t-shirts, mugs, and beverage holders. Meanwhile, Trump's son Don Jr. is marketing "FREE TRUMP" merchandise. On the opposing side, the Lincoln Project, a Republican-founded anti-Trump group, is offering shot glasses with a striking acronym for Donald Trump critics.
Etsy, an online crafts platform, features numerous satirical items inspired by the mug shot, including a parody Taylor Swift concert t-shirt. A Los Angeles t-shirt store is also joining the trend. This surge in merchandise has sparked debate, with some seeing it as a commercial move while others perceive it as a statement about Donald Trump's legal challenges.
Political strategists anticipate the image could raise significant funds for Trump's campaign, especially among his ardent supporters. David Kochel, an experienced Republican campaign operative, highlighted the irony of celebrating an indictment through merchandise sales. Trump's ongoing legal battles have been used to rally his base and fundraise. Campaigns reportedly generate substantial profits from such merchandise sales.
However, the legal rights concerning the use of the mug shot for commercial gain remain unclear. While mug shots from federal courts are often public domain, state policies vary. Donald Trump's campaign might have legal grounds to protect his image, but political parody goods could offer some protection.
Trademark attorney Josh Gerben noted that due to the polarising nature of Trump's likeness, legal action might not be a priority. The controversy around the mug shot mirrors Trump's polarising political career. Regardless of the legal intricacies, the mug shot merchandise phenomenon showcases the intersection of commerce, politics, and public sentiment.