Entries in Endorsement (1)


Slurpee Summit? 7-Eleven Seizes on Attention from President Barack Obama

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Could an icy, gas station staple be the magic elixir that brings the nation's divided politicians together?

In the run-up to the Midterm Elections, 7-Eleven's iconic Slurpee brand got an unexpected boost from President Barack Obama, who repeatedly mentioned it in stump speeches. In a metaphor for what he saw as Republicans' unwillingness to help him, Obama painted his political opponents as "drinking Slurpees" while Democrats were busy governing. Voters apparently didn't agree with the president, given the Republican resurgence in the polls on Election Day, but the company synonymous with the drink was quick to jump on the presidential attention.

Obama eventually dropped "Slurpees" for "lattes" as his punchline, but he brought up the icy drink again Wednesday after a reporter asked the president if he'd invite Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, over for a Slurpee.

"They're delicious drinks," Obama quipped. "The Slurpee summit," he added, picking up on another reporter's line.

It might have been a passing joke, but the folks at 7-Eleven tasted a real opportunity. The company has already offered to install Slurpee machines in the White House to cater a Slurpee Summit.

"We're such a part of pop culture," said Rita Bargerhuff, the VP and Chief Marketing Officer for 7-Eleven, Inc., reflecting on the presidential mention of the company's product. "We are part of the nomenclature for the American public."

The White House laughed off the idea of an actual Slurpee summit Thursday, but 7-Eleven representatives say they're pushing forward with the idea. They plan to drive Slurpee trucks from Dallas to Washington D.C., beginning Friday, giving free Slurpees to Americans along the way. Slurpee also plans to create a new flavor called Purple for the People. It tastes like berry, and it's the color you get, of course, when you mix red and blue. 7-Eleven officials insist that Slurpee is non-partisan.

An ad campaign featuring the purple drink has already been drawn up, though neither the president's image nor words will be used.

The company also offered to put Slurpee machines in Rep. John Boehner's office on Capitol Hill, but in an interview with ABC News Thursday, the presumptive Speaker of the House didn't seem so excited about the frozen drink.

"I don't know about a Slurpee. How about a glass of merlot?" Boehner said.

The White House frowns on the use of the president's image for commercial purposes, but plenty of companies have tried to capitalize on the Obama touch.

The clothing company Weatherproof used a photo of Obama wearing one of their jackets on a Times Square billboard. The image of the president, standing on the Great Wall of China, was used without Obama's authorization, and it was eventually removed at the request of the White House.

First Lady Michelle Obama's penchant for brands like J. Crew and White House | Black Market has helped those companies sell out of certain styles, though neither company uses that informal endorsement to market their clothing.

So what exactly is a presidential endorsement worth in Slurpee sales?

"I think we're going to find out," said Chabris.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio