No, these aren’t especially designed for The President, as are his car, helicopter, plane, windbreaker, etc. etc., these are fresh-from-the-street Nike sneakers with Obama’s face slapped on the side. I suspect these were created some time last year, during the campaign, but in any event, they’re for sale now.

In addition to remarking on the strangeness of a seemingly endless sea of Obama-branded stuff, we can talk a little more academically about how Obama’s face is featured more predominantly than the Nike swoosh. Over the last 20 years or so, branding on clothing has become more and more brazen, with Nike at the forefront of this movement. Brand icons have become badges, identifying like-minded consumers — if not tribe members — with people having even gone so far as to get Nike Swoosh tattoos. Their brand mark has become almost as recognisable as the Cross, and yet, here it is playing second violin to the image of Obama.

Perhaps all this time we were worshipping a false idol. Brands are powerful, but ultimately they are only just metaphors. A real-life, inspirational person will always be a more powerful point to rally around than a collection of abstract ideas. Nike has told us to “Just Do It”, but imagine if that same sort of passive-aggressive motivational talk came from Obama. Something might actually [just] get done. “Yes We Can” is the new “Just Do It”, it seems.

Sadly, these aren’t the first time sneakers have thrown a perverse curveball to the world of branding and design. Check out this old post from April 2006. »