In 2007, Lorielle Broussard and her brother Brandon launched Barackawear, and designed and sold “Barack-the-Vote” T-shirts to rally support for Obama.
When actor Hill Harper requested 250 shirts for an Obama fundraiser at Oprah Winfrey's home, the Broussards realized the potential of their project. They built a Web site, earmarked 25% of their net proceeds to the campaign, and devised their own regional marketing campaign, including street teams and fliers. Last June, nearing the election, the duo hired LaForce and Stevens to maximize national exposure.
The team focused efforts on event sponsorship and brand presence at Obama rallies, fundraisers, and the Democratic National Convention.
Also, to garner national media attention, especially among the fashion sect, the team leveraged the image of Lorielle as a budding fashion designer, and Brandon as an entrepreneur, as well as focused on celebrity seeding.
“Obama had a big celebrity following, which is a little different than in past election years,” says Robyn Kures, VP at LaForce and Stevens.
Additionally, to secure long-term brand awareness, the company had launched a documentary to trace all steps of the campaign.
Barackawear staff volunteered, handed out freebies, and sold T-shirts at political events in blue and swing states. When it launched a new shirt in the summer, the team blasted news and images to the blogs from a photo shoot with America's Next Top Model star Eva Marcille (pictured).
Tactics also included a gifting suite at LA Fashion Week, long-lead editor outreach surrounding profile and product stories; a satellite radio tour live from the DNC; and celebrity seeding via stylists and personal relationships.
The team also leveraged the documentary cameras to help attract media attention at events.
“[The initiative] helped to generate buzz, but we wanted to document anything surrounding the effort,” Lorielle says.
Barackawear sold more than 25,000 items, contributing the maximum amount permitted by law to Obama's campaign. Additionally, Black Enterprise magazine recently photographed the Broussards for its Top Entrepreneurs under 35. A variety of celebrities, including Cher and Stevie Wonder, were photographed wearing merchandise, and the team secured placements on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and USWeekly.com, among other outlets. The siblings also received a plethora of design ideas from consumers, which they might use for future projects.
“Obviously our biggest [success] was that Obama got elected,” Lorielle adds. “For a future project, we could do the same thing and get more widespread and national press.”
Barackawear will leverage the buzz for new products and projects, including a denim line in the works, the next election, and a completed documentary, which the team has entered for the Sundance Film Festival next year.
By melding the Broussard name with the product and brand, the team was able to meet its short-term goal to support Obama, as well as its long-term goal to secure the amount of credibility needed to effectively promote future endeavors.
The documentary was a specifically effective tool. Like bees to honey, the Broussard camera crew attracted more media, and the finished documentary will serve as yet another Broussard-branded product to stand alone or serve as a marketing tool for a future program.
PR team: Barackawear and LaForce and Stevens (both Los Angeles)
Duration: June-December 2008