Keep Soap Alive! Obama Product Peddlers Work the Hustings
Obama products are everywhere. You've seen the ads for the Obama commemorative plate which creepily refers to the president-elect's "confident smile and kind eyes." Web-based CafePress has tens of thousands of Obama-based options. And of course guys have been selling Obama condoms in Times Square for months.
Some Obama marketers have nerve enough to pimp their products to the press. We found two with entertaining spiels.
A Dallas company is offering Obama-themed bar soap that declares it time to "clean up America." And right here in Manhattan, Oren's Daily Roast is selling a special coffee mix, "Blend 44," designed to reflect Obama's unique upbringing and history by using multicultural beans.
Unlike the condom and china marketers, both companies have business plans that, they swear, involve more than just gripping Obama's coattails.
"Our coffee is some of the best, period," said Oren Bloostein, coffee proprietor and developer of "Blend 44: Beans You Can Believe In," which mixes coffee beans from Hawaii (Obama's upbringing), Kenya (Obama's father) and elsewhere to present a narrative of Obama's life in roasted form.
"It's not total shtick, it's not something you look at once and throw away," said Bloostein.
Craig Tiritilli and Salah Boukadoum, the duo behind My Obama Bar, say that it's compatible with Obama's stimulus plan, since because already had to hire more people to handle their pre-inaugural deliveries -- hence "we're creating jobs," said Boukadoum.
The two men were brainstorming different ideas for their company, Soap Hope, when Boukadoum's brother came up with "the audacity of soap," a play on Obama's campaign slogan.
The soap was actually launched during the election season, but did not pick up in sales until after Obama's win. Since then, they say, it's taken off.
Not only does the Obama Bar feature Obama's visage on the front (complete with sunburst), it announces that the product is biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free, and printed on 100 percent recycled paper.
"We'll continue to sell it as long as it has demand," he said, noting that the company has a set goal of donating $50,000 in proceeds to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which provides relief for wounded veterans and their families.
But what does Obama think of this? Bloostein said he wouldn't know how to get his coffee to the President-Elect, and wouldn't want their full-bodied roast to distract him from serving the nation. But Tiritilli and Boukadoum have tried to get their soap in the hands of the incoming commander in chief: During the campaign, they dropped off soap to the Obama HQ in Dallas, and have been looking for ways to lather up the national team, including Obama himself.
"We'd love to share some with them," said Boukadoum. "We'd love for somebody over there to get some soap in their hands."
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