I… don’t know how I should feel about this. My gut reaction is to deride this some how but.. other than finding it too expensive ($2 a bottle), it looks fine for what it is. Political personality seeks to cash in on current political movement he agrees with by selling product tie-in. Sounds legit. it’s just… so… dude… Tea party Tea? Rush Limbaugh Tea?… ug….
My next reaction is guilt that I was predisposed to hate on this seemingly legit product rollout. In fact, I’m such a jerk that after being unable to find any holes in this on my own, I actually went searching for criticism of this new venture to spark alive whatever part of my brain was failing on this. So far I’ve only found similar “wow…this is silly” surprise commentary and over-the-top cynicism that rests entirely on the old Marxist meme of everything that earns a profit by definition cheats the consumer and/or anything right wing is nothing but wicked corporate greed. Yawn…
The conservative movement is primarily a means by which the wealth of rabid right-wingers is redistributed to celebrities. Sometimes the money comes from billionaires, who know exactly what they’re buying when they fund advocacy groups and think tanks, but the whole scheme is basically powered by regular right-wing folks who are kept riled up and angry enough to keep sending checks to frauds and buying books full of alarming lies.
Limbaugh is donating a percentage of the profits to a military charity, but isn’t misleading with his sales pitch. If you watch the video of his announcement on the show, he has no shame about this being a for-profit venture which just happens to have a charity component as opposed to the other way around. Bill O’Reilly, on the other hand makes no money on his endless streams of merch, donating 100% of the profits to charity.
So as long as the buyer isn’t being duped and as long as the product is of average (or better, one hopes) quality, then there’s really nothing wrong with this and haters have no valid argument against it beyond “this is silly”, which it totally is, but whatever. You’re gonna tell me Lady Gaga merch isn’t silly?
Selling overpriced versions of every-day products with celebrity branding is a fine American tradition that serves both the enthusiast/fanatic consumer and the economy. It is the business model behind every single celebrity perfume (Michael Jordan, Kim Kardashian, 50 cent, Britney Spears, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Simpson, Tiger Woods – just to name a few). Stores can’t keep Justin Bieber nail polish on the shelves (I know. I’ve checked), and that is pretty much the epitome of the “what product does our fan base use that we can sell them by putting this name on?” marketing strategy.
Limbaugh plays this with a straight face, lacking any ironic or self deprecating tells that he realizes this is silly, leading me to believe he doesn’t, which is partly what makes me confused on how I should be feeling about this.
In contrast, Bill O’Reilly has admitted that he finds almost all of his Factor Gear products to be utterly ridiculous and often laughs when giving his sales pitches of them. That’s the way to do it… be self aware, be shameless about pushing it, and donate the proceeds to charity. It’s one of the reasons I own a “The Rain Stops Here” O’Reilly Factor umbrella (among other fine items. not kidding).
Limbaugh is doing parts of that here, so whatever. I approve. I won’t be buying any, but I approve.