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Ghana’s presidential election is less than two months away, and political parties are already making the most of the time to raise awareness in any way possible. Political paraphernalia is helping parties spread the word in their own unique way, and there’s no shortage of swag to choose from this year.

From T-shirts to bandana and umbrella’s, election merchandise has once again found its way to shops across Ghana ahead of arguably one of the tensest elections in the fourth republic, and retailers are cashing in on the fever. This year however new items such as hoodies and masks have been added and are also gaining popularity because of the pandemic. Political merchandise has swelled, with key political figures getting massively involved

Many shops are crammed with election merchandise with a number of them jam-packed with piles of the ruling Party flags, T-shirts with motifs of President Akufo Addo and scarfs carrying slogans of ‘’Round 2’’ and more.

Slogans and gripping phrases used by political leaders such as ‘Hope’ by the NPP and “Rescue Mission” by the NDC have made their way to caps and scarfs. Terms such as ‘Round 2’ are also being used on apparel. And as if that wasn’t enough, masks and even caps bearing party logos and pictures of political leaders are being sold now.

NPP ladies
NPP Ladies displaying “round 2” in their branded caps and shirt

But the opposition NDC seems to be upsetting the internet with the release of hoodies bearing the term ‘’John Mahama 2020’’. The latest addition to political merchandise this year has got tongues wagging with three pretty ladies donning the apparel which comes in different colors.

Retailers in Ghana are reportedly selling the garment in huge numbers bearing the name of John Mahama for between 150 and 200 cedis.

The upcoming polls are particularly important for the ruling party that has faced severe economic challenges as a result of the pandemic, despite some impressive macroeconomic gains in the past three years of its rule.

The NPP is, hence, leaving no stone unturned to fight and win voters’ support. In many advanced jurisdictions such as America, paraphernalia sales are used to raise funds for campaigns.

NDC GIRLS
Francisca Adjei of the NDC

Ben Okyere, a retailer tells Paakwesiasare.biz that 70% of the demand comes from political parties and their workers, while 30% is from regular customers who purchase to show support to a particular party. But some traders and manufacturers have complained about a lack of widespread demand this time primarily due to the COVID, causing this year’s election campaign to be driven mostly by social media and digital marketing.

The manufacturing and designing of this paraphernalia happen across the country with a chunk of them imported from China and other countries.

The ‘Round 2” for Nana T-shirts are selling like hot cake according to inside sources. The slogan, aimed at securing a second term for Nana, can also be found on other apparel, caps, and handkerchiefs.

NPP branded masks

In 2016, US President Donald Trump did the same in the presidential campaign. The official Donald J Trump online store made his iconic slogan, ‘Make America Great Again (MAGA)’, a household name by placing it on hats, T-shirts, and apparel of all kinds. The slogan won the “Symbol of the Year’’ award and became a strong sign of identity—as per Stanford’s Symbolic Systems program.

The merchandise is still available on the Trump website and even on common e-commerce platforms like eBay, and includes T-shirts, hoodies, etc, priced between $14 and $99. Experts say political merchandise can play a huge role in funding a presidential campaign.

Deputy CEO of NYA, Akosua Manu

Dr. Phani Tej Adidam, a Professor and the Chair of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at UNO said it is usually more difficult for a candidate to collect smaller donations from individuals, but merchandise sales can help fill in the gap.

According to him, people buy political merchandise so they can identify with that specific candidate’s vision or dreams or ideas about what they wish to offer their country.

Presidential candidates often sell merchandise to rake in additional funding for the campaign, establish a brand, and to collect data from their supporters.

Undoubtedly political ads that feature pretty women are most likely to generate eyeballs. Although women play a vital role in shaping society, it remains to be seen whether the aim of attracting votes can be achieved.