The election of Barack Obama has sent Americans scrambling for keepsakes of the historic moment, creating lines outside printing plants for yesterday's newspaper editions. It has also led to a small flurry of a new kind of keepsake: CNN has registered thousands of orders for T-shirts carrying the headline from the site reporting Obama's election victory.
In the 24 hours since CNN.com published its story calling the election for Obama, the site sold nearly 5,000 T-shirts emblazoned with "Obama inspires historic victory." Under the headline is "I just saw it on CNN.com" and the time and date 11:04 p.m., 11-4-08.
CNN in April rolled out the application, built by The Barbarian Group, to offer readers the chance to buy T-shirts carrying the site's headlines. The promotion is meant to build awareness of the CNN.com brand and traffic to the site. The T-shirts cost $15.
The customized T-shirts are a new digital twist on the marking of historic occasions. Newspapers have seen huge spikes in demand for copies of the paper declaring Obama's victory. CNN sites enjoyed a big influx of traffic on Election Day, drawing 12.8 million visitors on Tuesday, compared with 8.4 million the same day last week.
The interest translated into nearly $75,000 in T-shirt sales. The 5,000 T-shirts sold doubled the total purchased during the first five months of the promotion.
Still, Andy Mitchell, vp, interactive marketing at CNN, makes clear the site is not interested in getting into the T-shirt business.
"Having worn them, I've seen people discover them in the wild and talk about them," he said. "It really is amazing to see how people really do pay attention to the headline when you walk by."
Obama has proven a popular subject for memento seekers. The previous best-selling headline at CNN.com was when he secured the Democratic presidential nomination. CNN's more offbeat stories have also been popular. Two top sellers are "Colossal squid has soccer ball eyes" and "One in three office workers hung over."
CNN is looking to capitalize on the interest by running banner ads on the site offering a T-shirt memento and cutting a TV spot tied to it.
"We're very happy with how this has gone," Mitchell said. "We've definitely achieved our objectives and are looking for ways to make this bigger."