Barack Obama: The Brand

“He’s the 21st century’s Martin Luther King,” said David Jenkins as he holds up a shirt with Martin Luther King and Barack Obama that says ‘LEGACY.’

A street entrepreneur on South Monroe St., named Jenkins has seen his t-shirt sale profits triple since last Tuesday.

Jenkins, who was recently laid off from janitorial service said the election gave him extra money. “I knew I was going to vote for him because he gave me another job with these shirts,” laughed Jenkins.

“I was selling the shirts for about $15 a pop, but after Tuesday I made them $10 just to get them off my hands quicker.”

Jenkins got the idea to sell the shirts from a buddy in Birmingham, Ala. He thought that people might buy the shirts because of the historic value.

“People are proud in America for the first time, and they want to have something to show it off. He’s become a lot of people’s favorite brand next to Michael Jordan.”

“Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand,” says Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide. “New, different, and attractive.”

Obama’s greatest impact was among youth, roughly 18 to 29 years old, minorities, and the advertisers covet, the millennials.

New media, online social networks, and distaste for top-down sales pitches, connected voters more than traditional barriers, like ethnicity.

The campaign’s Web site was “far more dynamic than any of the others,” said professor Christine Williams, who has been studying Web sites and social media in campaigns with her colleague Jeff Gulati. featured constant updates, videos, photos, ringtones, widgets, and events to give supporters a reason to come back to the site.

On, the campaign’s quasi-social network, followers could create their own blogs around platform issues, send policy recommendations directly to the campaign, set up their own mini fund-raising site, organize an event, and even use a phone-bank widget to get call lists and scripts to tele-canvass from home. He even had the most friends on Facebook and MySpace.

Jenkins said he gave the money to a local church to improve their grassroots voter drives.

“The ‘Yes we can’ slogan, people ate that up and that’s been my second top seller,” said Jenkins. “I’m thinking about coming up with a shirt that says ‘Yes we did!’ What do you think?”