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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

 
A brand name in a suit, nothing more

by digby

Heh. The Donald is funny:

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on



Clinton says something important there which I don't think has been properly understood about Trump. Most of his money has been made through "branding."

It’s not just vanity that requires Trump to claim that all his deals make gazillions: his current business requires it. Even when his projects fail – his golf course in Aberdeenshire, to take one example, has lost £3.5 million over the last two years – he makes money through letting other people put his name on their projects: no risk, little work, just a licensing fee upfront or a share of the profits. He doesn’t actually own the Trump Taj Mahal or Trump Palace or Trump Place or Trump Plaza or Trump Park Avenue or Trump Soho, or the many Trump buildings throughout South America, Turkey, South Korea and the Caucasus. Developers buy the use of his name because enough customers believe in it: ‘It’s not even a question of ego. It’s just that my name makes everything more successful,’ he says. And so there have been Trump board games and phone contracts, credit cards, mattresses, deodorants, chocolate bars that look like gold bars, cologne sold only by Macy’s (‘Success by Trump’). He made $200 million over 14 seasons by being the star of The Apprentice, playing ‘Donald Trump’, the richest, tycooniest man in the world. Between 2005 and 2010, Trump made more than $40 million from thousands of students who enrolled in entrepreneurship classes at ‘Trump University’. Some say it was a scam, and many of them have joined class action lawsuits to get their money back (one says that ‘for my $35,000+ all I got was books that I could have gotten from the library’). The attorney general of New York has filed a lawsuit against Trump for fraud.

That's a legitimate business --- lot's of celebrities do this. Jessica Simpson, Gwen Stephanie, Kanye West, Michael Jordan --- all those people who license their names are master branders. Trump's one of the best, no doubt about it.

But it doesn't make him a Titan of Industry, an Entrepreneur, a Master of the Universe. It doesn't even make him a master negotiator. He's negotiates licensing contracts. These are not the Treaty of Paris or the Peace of Westphalia. They aren't deals to build a manufacturing plant or a corporation that offers a good or service to millions of people. He simply makes contracts to exploit his name for big money.

He's a brand name in a suit with a very big mouth. Period. In our ridiculous economy that's enough to make you obscenely wealthy but it doesn't make you a great businessman.

.