Corporations, artists benefit from inaugural hype

The inauguration of President Obama is over, but the show is still going on.

Marketers are still pitching their connection to the event. Performers are introducing songs of hope. Newspapers and magazines are preparing special editions. Distributors are lining up DVDs of the swearing-in and related events.

Pepsi was a ubiquitous presence, sponsoring an all-day symposium and plastering signs throughout Washington with the slogan “Yes You Can,” with the “O” replaced by the soft-drink’s logo. (The Creative Coalition even sent out a reminder to reporters on Jan. 21 that its ball was sponsored by the cola-maker.) Just hours after Joe Biden took the oath of office, Trident gum sent out e-mails touting a special promotion that gives a pack of gum to anyone who uploads a photo of their own grin to joebidensteeth.com. The creator of the site said in a statement, “We believe the health of your teeth reflects the level of your patriotism and in our opinion, Americans are poised to show it.”

Inaugural themes could spill over into sports. Producer Ricky Kirschner oversaw much of the entertainment at the official inaugural events and was in charge of the Kids Inaugural Ball and the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. The latter proved to be the most prized of the official balls, with Beyonce serenading the first couple as they danced to “At Last.”

Kirschner wasn’t basking in his success on Jan. 21. Rather, he was on his way back to his New Jersey home for a short stop before heading to Tampa, where he’ll produce the Super Bowl halftime show. The featured act? Bruce Springsteen, who performed at Obama’s Lincoln Memorial event. It doesn’t hurt that the Boss also has a new album, “Working on a Dream,” coming out on Jan. 27.

When it comes to riding the Obama promotional bandwagon, a premium is placed on authenticity: The closer to the real thing, the better. Official shops near the transition offices were flooded with tourists the day after the inauguration, with crowds anxious to get one last shot at buttons, programs and other souvenirs. 

The Washington Post printed thousands of extra copies of a special inaugural edition, but that wasn’t what the public wanted. The actual Wednesday edition of the paper quickly sold out and was next to impossible to find by midday. The paper still plans to release “The Inauguration of Barack Obama: A Photographic Journal” on Feb. 10.

While most of these efforts have an eye on the inaugural’s lofty legacy, other endeavors opted to focus on the unnerving hassles, the giant crowds that made D.C. next to impossible to navigate, evoking a music festival more than an august moment in history.

A new Facebook group, for example, is devoted entirely to the “Purple Tunnel of Doom.” It’s for the thousands of ticket holders stuck in a tunnel under the National Mall during the swearing-in because of a big logistical logjam.

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