Friday, January 16, 2009

Barack Obama: Pop culture icon

He’s young, handsome, charismatic, and the media love him.
He’s not an American Idol, a basketball phenom or a movie star. But he’s everywhere in the news and pop culture these days.
He’s President-elect Barack Obama, who’ll be sworn in on Tuesday Jan. 20 as the nation’s 44th president.
Companies of all stripes are rushing to cash in on Obama’s superstar popularity.
Topps, the sports trading card company, has come out with a set of President Obama collector trading cards. The box is inscribed “Inaugural Edition,” implying that there could be follow-on sets. Each pack ($1.99 suggested retail) contains six cards and one sticker. The complete set is 90 cards and 18 stickers. Privately held Topps is based in New York City.
Obama graces the cover of the latest issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic book from Marvel Comics. In the comic, Spider-Man foils a plot to replace Obama with an impostor at the inauguration. The real Obama thanks Spidey with a fist-bump, of course. Marvel Comics is a unit of publicly traded Marvel Entertainment of New York City.
Obama also appears as a butt-kicking fighter in a downloadable update to “Mercenaries 2: World In Flames” for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game consoles.
Obama is a playable character who can fire grenade launchers, blow up buildings, and hijack tanks. Hail to the Chief, indeed. “Mercenaries 2” was developed by Pandemic Studios and published by Electronic Arts.
This week, a Hillside, Ill., man is auctioning on eBay a luxury Chrysler sedan Obama drove before winning the White House. Starting bid: $100,000. Obama leased the steel blue 2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi in 2004 and swapped it for a Ford Escape hybrid in 2007, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s something you’d expect for a car previously owned by Elvis.
Time Out Chicago magazine reports that Obama’s name has been used to sell everything from “thong underwear to a line of snacks called Obama’s Salty Nuts (a tongue-in-cheek reference to Jesse Jackson’s hot-mike threat of castration).”
The cover of the latest issue of Time Out Chicago features a Chicago Bulls jersey with Obama’s name and the number 44. The magazine is now auctioning off the custom-made jersey on eBay and donating the proceeds to charity.
Newspapers and magazines have gotten a boost in sales, thanks to Obama commemorative editions.
Expect to see a lot more memorabilia in the news on inauguration day. Stores in Washington, D.C., are packed with T-shirts, buttons, tote bags, posters and other items for the estimated 2 million visitors in town for the event. How about “Hot 4 Obama” hot sauce or an Obama bobblehead? Those are available too, according to Bloomberg.
Most of this stuff, including the so-called collectables, won’t be worth much years from now. So forget about those Obama collector plates or commemorative coins as investments. Experts say anything produced as a collectable really isn’t because so many copies were made. The really valuable items are the most scarce – memorabilia from Obama’s senate campaign or items autographed by him, experts say.
As for me, I think I’ll just pick up some “Yes Pecan!” ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. The ice cream company is owned by conglomerate Unilever.

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