A Vote for T-Shirts

The presidential election will conclude in just a couple of weeks, and on today’s Stahls’ TV Morning Show, Josh and Zach Ellsworth showed how you can capitalize on T-shirts for any election, from President down to dog-catcher. With that in mind, we’re revisiting a post from November 6, 2012 about election T-shirts.

by Matt DeLaere, Marketing

With election day upon us, it’s interesting to look at how much presidential campaigns, slogans, and promotional materials have made their way into popular culture. From “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” (William Henry Harrison, 1840) to “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” (Herbert Hoover, 1928) to “I like Ike” (Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952), political slogans have been imprinted on banners, buttons, hats, pins, bumper stickers, and eventually, T-shirts.


[Image from http://moyatees.wordpress.com/]

The Smithsonian holds the oldest known surviving printed T-shirt which, not surprisingly, is a campaign shirt. “Do it with Dewey” adorns a 1948 campaign T-shirt for Thomas Dewey. While Dewey did not, in fact, defeat Truman, a remnant of his campaign has its own place in T-shirt history.





[Image from http://www.ebay.com]

The busily patriotic T-shirt at right comes from Richard Nixon’s 1972 campaign and shows how T-shirts help make people into walking billboards. I have to imagine this shirt attracted some attention for its wearer and for President Nixon.






[Image from http://www.ebay.com]

Nixon’s opponent in 1972 was George McGovern who, along with running mate Sargent Shriver (Maria Shriver’s dad and brother-in-law to John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy) punched his ticket to ride with this campaign tee.

Each of these 1972 T-shirts is set to fetch some serious dollars on Ebay, so it might not be a bad idea to hang onto any campaign shirts you might have, even if they promote a losing campaign.




Vintage campaign slogans are making a comeback on new shirts, too.  RetroCampaigns.com makes new shirts adorned with old slogans. Many of the designs used on Retro Campaigns come from buttons, stickers, and flyers, such as this 1960 “Viva Kennedy” shirt, and my personal favorite, a 1964 Barry Goldwater logo using the chemical symbols for gold and water (I’m a sucker for plays on words).

[Images from http://www.retrocampaigns.com]

So it seems that whomever is elected president, senator, mayor, or dog-catcher, the clear winner in almost every political race is the regular old T-shirt.


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