Selling The Obama Brand

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Atlanta biotech executive Kirk Dornbush is a very big second-generation Democratic fundraiser. (His dad was Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the Netherlands.) But around the Obama headquarters, Dornbush is known as the “chum king.” He has spent much of this year traveling the country setting up tables at rallies, where he sells Obama-themed merchandise. The campaign calls them “chum stores,” because they really act as bait. Every time someone buys, say, a $3 key chain, they fill out a form in which they become an official campaign donor–and the campaign harvests their contact information. (I wrote about this operation a few months back in the magazine.)

Anyway, I tracked Kirk down here at Invesco (He offered me a seat near his, but it turns out the writing press has a better spot than the Fat Cats), and asked him what he thought of all those bootleg Obama merchandise vendors I passed in the line outside Invesco. Turns out he’s not too bothered. He says the campaign has sold well over $1 million in official merchandise here in Denver this week. Another woman bought 738 buttons from him. He says his first sale this week was to a guy who picked up $760 in Obama stuff, and that when he got his first box of 1,500 Obama/Biden buttons yesterday, it sold out in 15 minutes.

Still, they might want to consider Obama in a Bottle.