Donald Trump’s Friday campaign event in Washington, D.C., at the Trump International Hotel was only the latest of many examples of Trump using his campaign and ability to get attention from the media to pitch his own products and market his own properties and brands.
Friday’s event, which garnered rapt media attention because of the promise of a comment on his birther views, was ostensibly held so the real estate mogul could announce his endorsement by Medal of Honor recipients. But it wasn’t really about that, either. Trump began his remarks by instead bragging about his newly acquired hotel.
“Nice hotel,” he said. “Under budget and ahead of schedule. Isn’t that nice? No, it is a great honor this is a brand new ballroom and you only see a small piece of it. … We’re going to have the opening ceremony in October.”
He continued to promote his new property. “It may be one of the great hotels anywhere in the world,” he boasted. (Trump International Hotel is welcoming guests to the presidential inauguration if they’re willing to spend $500,000 to stay in its penthouse suite.)
All the major cable news networks exposed their viewers to Trump’s show, giving him the opportunity to basically cut a campaign commercial for his own hotel.
Trump’s marketing acumen has been on overt display on many other ostensible campaign events. For example, after winning the Michigan and Mississippi primaries in March, Trump traveled to his Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter, Florida, to hold a press conference.
Not only did Trump hold the event at a property he owns, but he used it to hawk a number of his own products — everything from Trump Steaks to Trump Water and Trump Wine. ABC News even cut a video compiling all of the self-promotion from the event. And by at least one measure, it worked. Google searches for Trump Steaks spiked to their highest record levels that month. It was later discovered that the “Trump Steaks” at the event were not even from Trump’s company.
In late June, Trump decamped from the United States altogether, spending two days in Scotland to promote his golf courses. Despite the fact that this was one day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, Trump’s speech mostly avoided politics and focused on advertising his business. As much of the U.S. and international media carried his remarks live, Trump stood in front of a lighthouse-turned-hotel-suite and marketed his Turnberry golf resort to an array of cameras and reporters.
“We’ve taken that building and made it something really special. Inside that lighthouse right now are incredible suites. … On the bottom you have dining, and golfers will stop and get something to eat,” he said. “A lot of people think this will be the great par 3 anywhere in the world.”
Although Trump has used his campaign to market his properties, foot traffic to his casinos and hotels have been taking a hit. CNBC reports that in July “Trump properties’ share of visits fell 14 percent year over year.”