Highly-controversial media organization WikiLeaks needs money in a major way…and so they’ve turned to merchandising.
The notorious site has hired a CafePress-type company, Spreadshirt AG, to produce WikiLeaks branded clothing and accessories to sell online. The Wall Street Journal reports that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “is trying to harness his growing celebrity to raise funds for both his document-leaking Web site and his legal-defense fund.” That’s not all he’s selling: In addition to tees, hats, umbrellas, messenger bags, laptop sleeves and hoodies, Assange will reportedly land a $1.3 million advance from Random House for his memoirs.
The Journal spoke to a branding expert, who cautioned that WikiLeaks could be endangering its “subversive” reputation with the e-commerce store — which is a valid point (anyone remember the conversation in The Social Network about monetizing Facebook? ‘Right now, the Facebook is cool. That’s what it’s got going for it.”)
Concerns about coolness aside, we wonder who would feel comfortable buying and wearing WikiLeaks merchandise. Is there really a large audience out there who’d want to publicly show their support for Julian Assange?