Running for President was never in Donald Trump’s plan, but neither was making a giant joke of himself and his brand…
Exclusive data reveal that while The Donald garnered $260 million in free publicity during his six-week presidential fling, most of it was negative. Randall Lane on why that hurts Trump, Inc.
Donald Trump bowed out of the 2012 presidential race yesterday, explaining that “business is my greatest passion.” But the billionaire hasn’t been a businessman in the classic sense that he portrays himself on his reality show—the captain of industry who risks his own money to create businesses and jobs—for years. Rather, he’s become a brand.
Instead of borrowing money to build real estate (a strategy that led him into several bankruptcies), for the past five years he’s been slapping his name on other people’s buildings, from Honolulu to Dubai, and taking a cut. And he’s taken that concept to pretty much everything: Trump vodka, Trump suits, Trump water, Trump chocolates, Trump golf, Trump (online) University, etc. Forbes, capitalism’s scorekeeper, has even affixed a stand-alone value to the Trump brand: $200 million. The Donald claims it’s more like $3 billion.
All of which made his now-aborted presidential ambitions more than just a sideshow or rich man’s whimsy. In branding, publicity is oxygen, and over the past few weeks, Trump sucked up the entire atmosphere. The Daily Beast contracted with General Sentiment, a leading consumer research company, which tracks every article, online mention and tweet, and assigns each a media value depending on content and reach. The total was staggering. In the past six weeks, Trump garnered himself $259.4 million worth of free publicity.
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