The Trump brand is worth more since his election than ever before, adding to his portfolio and raising questions about conflicts of interest.
Donald Trump is already making money from the presidency, a post-election bump to the value of his brand that highlights the inextricable ties between his famous name, his business interests and the powerful public office he is about to assume.
Since his surprise November win, the value of Trump’s name has risen to all-time highs, coinciding with a surge in demand for everything from his condominiums and hotel rooms to his golf courses and men’s suits, according to experts in marketing, real estate and other industries who have been tracking the Trump brand since long before the launch of his political career.
“It’s the most incredible culmination of a country built on a capitalist economy, that the presidency should be fused with a branding machine and with this global corporation,” said Trump biographer Gwenda Blair.
But as Trump now prepares to take the oath of office, the president-elect’s team must manage the gush in popularity and ensuing earnings while facing critics who are already accusing Trump of using the presidency for profit.
Trump and his advisers are expected to roll out their plans at a Wednesday press conference explaining how he can shield himself and his family from conflict of interest charges. While Trump has resisted a complete divestiture from his company as some ethics experts are urging, he is taking steps to address the controversy, including scrubbing his images off billboards and other advertisements tied to projects from India to Uruguay and imposing restrictions against selling any memorabilia with the presidential seal or White House logo inside his hotels or golf course pro shops.
“His focus is not going to be on the company or the brand,” Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, told POLITICO.
But Trump and his business allies have not been hesitant about their ability to bank on the boom in interest: His adult sons have been traveling the world since the November election drumming up business for the brand their father spent decades building, and just last week, Eric Trump visited the beachside Uruguay Trump condominium that’s reportedly seen a 20 percent surge in business during construction over the last year. Trump’s new Washington D.C. hotel also recently raised the prices on the “romanesque revival,” a bourbon cocktail that at $24 is the least expensive option at the bar.
The president-elect boasted in a New York Times interview shortly after defeating Hillary Clinton that his company is in better shape than ever before, noting hotel occupancy “will be probably a more valuable asset now than it was before.”
“The brand is certainly a hotter brand than it was before,” Trump told the newspaper. “I can’t help that, but I don’t care.”
For the Trump brand, this reversal is something of a redemption after the negativepublicity it endured during a bruising 2016 presidential campaign that produced an endless series of headlines about its founder’s brash and often offensive political style. Now, its namesake is going where no other corporate CEO has ever gone before in American history, a move that continues to boost the value to his brand even when just standing still.
“It’s a golden brand. There’s never been a Rockefeller or Disney who’s been president,” said Robert Dankner, president of a New York real estate brokerage that has dealt in Trump properties.
There’s no question that Trump understands the value of the Trump name. On his financial disclosure forms, he has indicated it is his biggest asset, representing about a third of his proclaimed $10 billion in wealth. Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump made his business a central theme of who he was as a rookie politician. At one post-primary celebration last March, Trump plugged multiple products that his company had sold, from wines to steaks and bottled water. He also detoured from the trail to visit his Scotland golf courses and open his Washington D.C. hotel.
Now entering the White House bubble, there’s little indication Trump is truly ready to let go. The executive producer credit line remains on his reality television show ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and the websites for his golf courses still prominently feature photos of Trump.
He also will not be lacking for opportunities to trumpet his properties. Next week’s inauguration parade down Pennsylvania Avenue passes his new hotel and he is hosting two major professional golf championships this summer at his country clubs in New Jersey and Northern Virginia. There also will be many trips to Trump Tower in New York, which has been called White House North, to his West Palm Beach private club that’s expected to be a winter presidential retreat and to his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course, which one of his senior staffers recently labeled “CampDavidNJ.”
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