Milbank: Trump's merchandising empire has collapsed — here's how we can save it
WASHINGTON – Tuesday morning's Washington Post carried the dispiriting news that Donald Trump's merchandising empire has collapsed.
But I think we can make it great again.
Trump-branded items – steaks, shirts, underwear, perfumes, chandeliers, mattresses, shoes (for Mexico!), vodka, pillows, eyeglasses, coffee pods, urine tests and more – have almost all been discontinued, undoubtedly a consequence of the TOTALLY UNFAIR coverage President Trump has received.
The Post's David A. Fahrenthold, with researchers from American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop, found that only two of 19 companies are still offering any Trump wares. Most tragic of all: The failure of Trump's Success cologne, marked down to $9.99 from $42. Sad! I stopped by Fahrenthold's desk on Tuesday, sprayed some Success by Trump on my wrist and immediately felt more confident and powerful! Even now, my exclamation points are multiplying!!! And I am BUSTING OUT IN ALL CAPS!!!!!! MAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway, as I was saying, it is just WRONG that the Trump lines have failed, because they were tremendous: Trump, the board game ("Live the fantasy! Feel the power! And make the deals!"); Trump lighting ("jewelry for the home"); Trump glassware ("creates and improves the 'ambient'"); Trump luxury floor coverings ("oversized planks"); and Trump eyewear (with a Trump logo on the lenses, for professionals who "understand the importance of image").
Trump-branded clothing is no longer a viable line, now that the world has come to know his baggy suits and extra-long red ties. The Trump name isn't going to sell mattresses and pillows anymore (the guy doesn't sleep), and nobody is going to believe that a guy who takes his meat well-done sells "The World's Greatest Steaks," as the Trump line claimed.
Trump-branded urine tests were supposed to assess "metabolic markers in your body's natural waste fluids," but that is a poor fit for a self-professed germophobe who, according to James Comey, disavowed any interest in urine. Nobody is going to believe that a teetotaler sells "The World's Finest Super Premium Vodka," or that a guy who drinks only Diet Coke sells coffee that "effortlessly oscillates between classic smoothness and robust taste." Nobody wants oscillating coffee.
The good news is Trump can continue to make money by selling his name. We just need to update the product line.
For example, Trump's Success fragrance "is an inspiring blend of fresh juniper and iced red currant, brushed with hints of coriander. As it evolves, the mix of frozen ginger, fresh bamboo leaves and geranium emerge taking center stage, while the masculine combination of rich vetiver, tonka bean, birchwood and musk create a powerful presence throughout wear."
A newsroom sniff test produced a simpler description: "Smells like Old Spice."
Similarly, Trump's Empire is for confident men "who aspire to create their own empire. … Bold notes of peppermint, spicy chai and a hint of apple demand attention."
Different times call for different scents. I suggest:
Emoluments by Trump: An insinuating blend of Saudi turmeric, Philippine tamarind and the finest dukkah from Dubai, this cologne has the bouquet of exotic bank notes. Immediately recognizable to any member of the Trump family, the fragrance conveys: You are rich. You deserve preferential treatment.
Also in the new perfume line: Obstruction by Trump (bold, powerful and distracting) and Stormy by Trump (for the man who lives dangerously).
Other Trump-branded products that would sell well:
Trump golf drivers, which come with a free mulligan after every stroke.
Trump IQ tests, which tell you whether you are a "very stable genius," "like, really smart" or Maxine Waters.
A new line of Trump dictionaries ("the best words"), Trump juvenile products ("nobody has better toys"), Trump fasteners ("our buttons are much bigger and more powerful") and a new Trump cabinet line that flatters the owner's good taste.
Trump brands will also expand into services: Trump tax preparation ("paying no taxes makes you smart") and a Trump handyman service ("I alone can fix it").
But the biggest Trump branding opportunity, I believe, will be in a revival of "Trump, the Game" using different rules.
The previous version, which flopped, was a Monopoly variant in which players bid on seven properties and played cards labeled "THE DONALD" and "YOU'RE FIRED."
In the new version of "Trump, the Game":
You receive rent from Saudi diplomats for your hotel rooms.
You play a "TRUMP CARD" by calling the president of Panama to help you in a hotel dispute.
You pass "go" and collect $200 million from bankers you regulate.
You stiff your creditors and get richer.
You get a $1 billion tax cut.
You do not go to jail.
And you always win.