Which being an American I am glad to see them do…..
Within hours of bin Laden‘s announced death, a wide swath of marketers already had latched onto the leader’s sudden demise at the hands of U.S. special forces. Most see it as a chance to cash in with T-shirts, pins, coffee mugs and even risqué thongs that — for $10 to $25 — memorialize or even celebrate the May 1 death of the man who was widely regarded as the world’s most-wanted criminal.
Between midnight Sunday and 2 p.m. ET on Monday, thousands of consumer-created souvenirs already had popped up for sale on the websites Zazzle.com and CafePress.com, where royalty-seeking consumers go with original ideas for souvenir-like products that are ulitmately produced by the companies.
“Outside of an election year, this is about as fast a pickup as we’ve seen in our history,” says Joe Schmidt, senior vice president of retail at CafePress.
Executives at its competitor, Zazzle, agree. “We haven’t had a moment like this in some time,” says Michael Karns, director of marketing at Zazzle. “It wasn’t this big when Saddam Hussein was captured.”
Observers of popular culture are not the least bit surprised.
“People wear these things or buy these things in order to inflict the final indignity on bin Laden,” says Grant McCracken, a cultural anthropologist and author of Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation. “And $25 isn’t a lot to pay to gain entry in the national act of ridicule.”
The tone of most items, Schmidt says, generally falls in one of four categories: patriotism, military support, celebration and a category that he calls “justice is served.” But isn’t the merchandising of bin Laden’s death in poor taste? “We’ve always viewed ourselves as being a mirror to the culture,” Schmidt responds. “What’s more important than personal expression?”
Among the items for sale:
•T-shirts. Already, there are hundreds of designs. The website Tshirthell.com, has sold hundreds of $20 T-shirts that show a stick figure version of a victorious, flag-carrying American standing over the dead stick figure (complete with scraggly beard) of bin Laden. “We made a batch of them and already need to make a bunch more,” says Mika Larson, executive director.
A $21.35 T-shirt on Zazzle.com simply says: “Obama killed Osama.”
•Buttons. In making a marketable joke of bin Laden’s burial at sea, a $5 button sold on CafePress.com shows a photo of bin Laden under the line “Fish Food.”
•Caps. A $15 cap on CafePress.com treats the event like the collegiate basketball tournament that Obama likes to follow by listing the final two brackets as “Obama” and “Osama;” then showing the final bracket winner as “Obama.”
•Bumper stickers. A $3.95 bumper sticker at Zazzle.com shows pictures of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein with the question: Who’s Next?
•Neckties. It shows bin Laden in a gun sight under the line, “Justice: May 1, 2011″ goes for $31.75 on Zazzle.com
•Phone case. At $51.40, an iPhone case shows a photo of bin Laden with these words stamped across his face: “Mission Accomplished.” It’s sold at Zazzle.com
•Dog T-shirts. For $18, even your dog can wear a T-shirt that commemorates the day. The shirt, which says “Osama’s Dead,” is Facebook friendly with the familiar thumbs-up “Like” logo.
- Zazzle Artists Generate Massive Amounts of “Bin Laden Dead” Content (zazzle.com)
- U.S. Official: Bin Laden’s Skull Was Blown Apart (smacktalkradio.wordpress.com)
- No Time Wasted: Anti-Osama Merchandise Rapidly Multiplies Online (newsfeed.time.com)
- Bin Laden’s wife not killed in raid, White House says (smacktalkradio.wordpress.com)
- Your Evening ‘Must Reads’ on Bin Laden Mission (tammybruce.com)
- Osama bin Laden Has Been Killed; President Obama Announces Osama bin Laden has be Killed (sugarslam.com)
- Concerning the Death of Bin Laden (aconforthesun.wordpress.com)
- Christians, Americans and Bin Laden (yesterdaylucas.com)
- Ten Years Later, Teacher Finally Gets to Shave Off His “Bin Laden Beard” (dancleary.typepad.com)
- Osama Bin Laden hide-out: Match history’s most-notorious fugitives to their evil lairs. (slate.com)