CR Blog

Fairey's $400k for Obama

Advertising, Graphic Design, Music Video / Film

Posted by Patrick Burgoyne, 4 June 2008, 12:52    Permalink    Comments (2)


Back in January we posted on Shepard Fairey's posters in support of the Barack Obama campaign. At the time, some comments cast doubt over how effective the posters would be. Not only is Obama now assured of the Democratic nomination but, we can reveal, sales of Fairey's posters (shown above) raised over $400,000 to help him get there...

Of course the posters in themselves, we assume, played only a very minor role in securing the nomination (although if anyone wants to conduct a poll on voter intentions versus coolness of poster design we'd be interested in the results) but the money raised, even in the multimillion dollar world of US Presidential election campaigns is not to be sniffed at.

Speaking at a function in New York last month attended by CR, Fairey explained that the Obama campaign had sold 70,000 of his posters plus stickers and T-shirts using the images created for them by Fairey, which equated to over $400,000 in revenue. The money was used to buy advertising for the candidate.


Initially, Fairey did a run of 350 screenprints off his own bat (one shown above). He used the money raised by selling them to finance a longer run of offset prints. Word of his activities reached the Obama camp who asked him to produce an official poster for them using an image that they had the rights to. Fairey said that he was nervous of getting involved initially, partly because he didn't want to mess things up for Obama (he has been arrested 13 times after all: not necessarily a helpful association for a candidate) and partly because hitching your wagon to any political candidate runs the risk of ending in disappointment if, once in office, they turn out not to be quite the person you'd thought them to be . "I know a lot of people who sit on the sidelines and complain about how everything goes down and they're not willing to stick their neck out and get involved in process," Fairey said. "It’s easy to criticise, but I saw Obama give a speech at the 2004 democratic convention and thought this is a politician who is saying something I want to hear."

Fairey's poster is part of Artists for Obama, described by the campaign as "art and merchandise donated to the campaign by the artists to help us raise money and grow our movement". Although his poster is currently sold out, this one by Scott Hansen is still available.



I've been following the blog of Scott Hansen for a while now and when he announced that Obama's team had been in touch the comments section lit up like a Christmas tree (good analogy?!).

Anyway, it raises lots of interesting questions, most of which stem from how much of an impact you believe these posters have. Obama's website is also super-slick and played a large roll in getting people to sign up for his campaign.

Whatever the impact, it has set a BIG precedent for the importance of good design in future elections (which will hopefully spill over to this side of the Atlantic) which, judging by the newsletters I received though my letter box before the recent local elections can only be a good thing.
Edward Lamb
2008-06-05 09:35:55

Those Obama posters are now collector's items and will skyrocket in value if he gets into The White House.

Take good care of them, all you lucky owners.
Reality Check
2008-06-07 15:16:40

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