On Why “All Press is Good Press”

In light of the political campaign, we see an increase in opposition towards certain candidates as well as, of course, the support for others. It is common to see merchandise representing people’s support of a candidate as we do with any other service that people like. However, recently I have noticed a pattern in which merchandise consists of that which people actually dislike. Imagine, for example, the bumper stickers that emerged both during and after Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012 with the phrase “Nobama.”

Particularly in a world of hashtags and twitter-sized catch phrases, political opinions are becoming easier to fit onto shirts and hats. This may seem fine because by wearing such statements, you are contributing to a dialog against a candidate or a particular ideology. However, the reality is that you are actually contributing to that which you oppose.

There is a term you may have heard that any press is good press. This is true in many respects because even if somebody does something bad, if it gets them on TV, it can make them money, establish an audience of both supporters and haters, both of which perpetuate their presence in the media. A good example is Martin Shkreli, a young big-pharma executive who notoriously bought out Daraprim (Pyrimethamine) and raised the price by 5,556 percent. It is considered by the World Heath Organization’s List of Essential Medicines as one of the most important drugs within any basic health system. Almost overnight he got the press to label him as the most hated man in America and the attention became a feedback loop, as in, having such recognition got him even more attention as a result. Although his fame didn’t last long with an investigation that led to his arrest, any other morally-void person with a clean background and the means could do the same thing and walk away famous and even richer than before. The fact is, people make money like this and for someone like Shkreli who was already in the business of valuing wealth higher than morality, screaming hatred for them in public only makes them stronger.

Not to mention, there is a fundamental difference between buying merchandise for something you support and buying merchandise about something you disagree with. Often, the positive option often sends your money directly to those of whom you support. That is not the case for the alternative. You’re money goes directly to either a third-party who has decided to exploit your opposition, or it might even go to the person you disagree with if they so chose to monetize their own bad reputation.