Rand Paul’s brand-new presidential-campaign website is sophisticated and consistently on message. The site’s features mirror Paul’s policy positions and slogans: The donation page accepts bitcoin, and you can literally stand with Rand if you purchase his campaign’s “Stand with Rand” flip-flops.
There’s fun to be had pointing out all the zany things you can now buy with Paul’s name on it. But there is a greater strategy involved in selling a $20 iPhone case or a beer stein adorned with a liberty-loving dog in shades. These objects are incentives for donors to pay up, but they are also political messaging.
“If you talk to the Romney campaign from last cycle, they’d tell you it’s not just about issues, also about merchandise and ‘productizing’ your candidates,” Vincent Harris, Rand Paul’s chief digital strategist told National Journal in December. “I think that, if you look at the potential field, there are some potential candidates who might be easier to productize than others.”
Like Paul. For years, Paul has defined his policy positions around libertarian rhetoric and nods to the millennial generation. That’s why it makes sense that his campaign is now selling webcam blockers to “stop hackers and the NSA,” as the product description reads on his website. It makes sense there are “Don’t Drone Me, Bro” graphic tees to purchase (product description: “‘Don’t Drone Me, Bro!’ Combining the Rand Paul filibuster for privacy with an Internet meme of a person yelling at police, ‘Don’t taze me, bro.’”).
“Rand fashion is cool,” a banner image on Store.RandPaul.com boldly states. The words appear on an image of Paul wearing Ray Ban sunglasses, a plain white tee, and a suit jacket. His hair is tousled just so. Rand Paul might be your dad’s age, but this isn’t your dad’s campaign. But even if a person doesn’t buy into the message when purchasing a campaign trinket, the campaign still gains valuable information.”Say you like Mike Huckabee, but Perry has anti-Clinton merchandise you want to buy,” Harris says. “Now you’re on his list.”