Donald Trump knows how to make headlines. But does he know how to sell products?
Not if that product is steak, a recent extensive in ThinkProgress on the short-lived Trump Steak reveals.
Trump teamed up with Sharper Image in early 2007 to create Trump Steaks.
“I asked, ‘What is it they want us to do?'”Jerry Levin, the CEO of the Sharper Image, told ThinkProgress. “And they really only had two criteria to the licensing agreement itself: Donald wanted his picture on the front of a Sharper Image catalogue when we introduced this, and he wanted his picture in every one of our stores when we introduced it.“
Sharper Image agreed. Trump Steaks launched in June 2007, with a jam-packed press event that was all about The Donald. This focus may have contributed to the product’s downfall, as the steak was all about Trump — and not about quality.
While QVC.com just recently took down its customer reviews for Trump Steaks, customers’ opinions were mixed at best. Some of the harshest reviews, collected by Death and Taxes, include “dreadful prices of meat for a high price,” “nothing but grease, and shrinkage is astonishing,” and “simply awful.”
Even Saturday Night Live took a shot at the steaks, though the vulgar sketch was mostly centered on Trump dropping the “g” in “Black Angus.”
Just two months after Sharper Image started selling the steaks, they dropped the offerings.
“The net of it all was we literally sold almost no steaks,” says Levin. “If we sold $50,000 of steaks grand total, I’d be surprised.”
Levin calls the steaks an “exercises in branding” for Trump — something that is unsurprising, as he put himself front-and-center in marketing the products. According to Levin, the increase brand recognition for the Trump Organisation may have even made up for lost sales.
However, consumers were simply confused by the dominance of Trump. Levin said that customers would venture into stores to ask why they had a picture of Donald Trump in the window — something that drove sales in the period, as customers often ended up buying something other than the steak from the store.
Trump may not know how to sell steak, but he certainly knows how to market himself. By putting himself front and center in a failed business venture, Trump’s past business experience doesn’t reveal much in terms of what he knows about entrepreneurship — but does show just how highly the presidential candidate thinks of himself.
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