We Made a Bunch of Money From Trump’s Win. Now We’re Giving It All Away.
“Bad guys are fun!”
That rationale was how we ultimately justified our decision to make a Trump Action Figure last summer, after we’d spent the first half of the year unabashedly building a feel-good story around ourselves and our unlikely hit products; the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Action Figures which had become kind-of-famous after the former blew up on Kickstarter.
A little background is in order. We didn’t just make Bernie and Hillary into Action Figures; we aligned ourselves with their campaigns by using the toys to raise funds for them and that was a big part of why they became so popular. And while there was clearly some marketing value to doing it like that, the truth is that we were leading with our hearts. Whether you agree or not, we really, truly felt like we weren’t just making products — we were making a difference. We were doing Good.
And now we were about to do something bad.
After spending so much time building up Bernie and Hillary as real-life heroes, the creative challenge of designing our first real-life villain was just so darn juicy. Donald Trump would be our universe’s Darth Vader! Or Dr. Evil…Whatever. We had a villain.
We gave him teeny-tiny hands and made his teenier-tinier middle finger pop up so he was flipping off the world. We made his hair removable, revealing a perfect Lex Luthoresque chrome-dome beneath that ridiculous combover. We chose the perfect shade of orange for his skin and we packed him up in the tackiest way we could conceive of; a shiny gold-on-gold-on-gold box. We christened him “An Over Re-Action Figure.”
He was the butt of our hilarious joke. And for good measure, we would donate a portion of all of the profits from his sale to Border Angels, a non-profit that helps immigrants survive the harsh journey across the US-Mexican border.
The whole thing would come to a glorious head when we stopped selling Trumps forevermore on November 8 because, as you surely remember, that was the day that Trump was going to lose the election and fade back into B-List oblivion.
Except, of course, he didn’t. The joke was on us.
As it turns out; bad guys — in real life— are not fun at all. They’re horrifying. And depressing. And selling action figures of them to people who don’t even get the joke is joyless, if not full-on demoralizing. Yet here we are, selling them literally by the boatload because on November 8, the day we thought we’d stop selling Trump Action Figures forever, they became a hit and we got flooded with preorders.
It’s a weird spot to be in. On the one hand — yay! — we’ve got a new hot product. We’re a small business, after all, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the money we’re making from this. But, on the other hand… wasn’t this all supposed to stand for something? Weren’t we?
As a CEO, as an artist, as an idealist, as a dad; it’s been a very confusing, surreal experience; I see myself and my company sliding down the slippery slope to selling out and I’m not quite sure I know how to stop it.
This weekend, when the immigration ban went into effect, it became clear. If we want to stand for something, we must take nothing.
So, as of today, we are giving 100% of the profits from our Trump Action Figures to ACLU. And for as long as we keep selling these Action Figures, we will keep on taking ALL of the profits and funneling them into the organizations and causes that are working to hinder the darkest parts of Trump’s agenda.
A drop in the bucket, perhaps. But somehow it makes it all feel more fun now, knowing that whatever big Trump does, thousands of little Trumps will be there to thwart him.