How to Ruin a Political Advertising Campaign

How to Run a Political Advertising Campaign Right Into the Ground

The campaign trail is long and arduous one. Even the slightest pebble in the road could be the preface to a mudslide, and everyone is looking for the best path to the top of Victory Mountain. Every campaign manager is tasked with answering the question, “How can I get voters interested in what my candidate has to say?” and more often than not, it all comes down to creative and innovative advertising campaigns. The trick, however, is that oftentimes it’s difficult to know what strategies will stick and will flop.Every campaign manager is looking for a “Keep Cool with Coolidge” or “Morning in America,” but nobody wants a “Let America Be America Again” or “I Still Like Ike.” And with the midterm elections coming up on the horizon, now is as important a time as ever to understand the difference between winning political advertisements and losing ones. But since no one really knows what “works,” here are a few things that definitely don’t:

Horrifyingly Bad Political Slogans

I like Ike t-shirtAlbeit a physically small component, your slogan will inevitably be the largest part of your campaign. It will appear on your promotional products, people will slap it on custom t-shirts, excited supporters will toss it on the bumpers of their Priuses, and so on. It will come to define you (barring no major scandals or other PR nightmares). Some candidates prefer to keep it clean, simple, and to the point. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower adopted the “I Like Ike” campaign slogan during the 1952 Presidential Election, and it helped him win a landslide victory over his democratic rival, Adlai Stevenson. Since then, the “I Like Ike” slogan has been considered one of the best political campaign slogans of all time.

… And then there are others; slogans that broke all the political advertising rules in all the worst ways and just, well, see for yourselves:

We Polked you in ’44, We Shall Pierce you in ’52 – This slogan, popularized in the 1852 election of Democratic candidate Franklin Pierce, utilized pretty odd set of puns (“Polked” to represent James K. Polk, who won the 1844 Presidential election, and “Pierce” to represent, well, Pierce) to literally say the democrats would be “piercing” (read as: shanking) voters. Despite threatening their primary voter base, Pierce walked away with a landslide victory over his opponent, Winfield Scott. We don’t get it either. Scott’s campaign slogan must have been something like, “Don’t vote for me. No, really, just don’t vote for me.”

This is a White Man’s Government This was the political campaign slogan of 1864 presidential hopeful Seymour Horatio. We can’t figure out why he didn’t win, either.


He kept us out of War –
Woodrow Wilson PortraitThis now-infamous phrase was the slogan for former President Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 campaign. It’s infamous because less than a month later, Wilson would push America into the trenches of World War I.

Defeat The New Deal and its Reckless Spending – This political gem was brought to us by Alfred M. Landon, who ran against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election. He also brought us the horrible-but-not-horrible-enough-to-make-this-list slogan, “Let’s Make it a Landon-Slide,” which really isn’t as horrible as it is cringe-worthy. But anyway, funny thing about The New Deal… It is believed by most to be one of, if not the, single largest contributing factor that helped drag America out of the depths of the Great Depression, thus firmly establishing FDR as one of America’s most beloved presidents of all time. Hey! Here’s a play on words: LOLandon!

It’s the Economy, Stupid! – Ahh! There’s nothing like addressing voters and the people to whom you might eventually be responsible as stupid. To be fair, this slogan wasn’t conceived as such. It was actually  meant to serve as a reminder of the three key campaign messages (Change vs. more of the same; The economy, stupid; and don’t forget healthcare) for Clinton’s campaign staff, but morphed into something greater. Eventually, it would help Clinton usurp then-President George H. W. Bush.

Awkward Social Media Presence / Scandals

The Internet is the best and worst thing to happen to politics in the last… Well, ever. It has enabled voters, taxpayers, and entire legions of ruthless internet trolls to have dialogue directly with their favorite elected officials, corporations, movie stars, musicians, artists, actors, etc. Sometimes, it’s incredible. And other times, it’s incredibly bad:

Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner NY Post cover photo
We have some great campaign poster ideas!

Former Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner basically wrote the book on politicians and social media catastrophies. We won’t go too into detail, but basically, Weiner’s otherwise optimistic political career came to a screeching halt after it was revealed in May 2011 that he had sent promiscuous photos to female Twitter followers. In what we can only describe as a politi-social 21st century digital Hindenburg explosion from which the world couldn’t avert its gaze, Weiner resigned from his congressional post, bowing his head in shame.

… Until he announced in April 2013 that he again would enter the political arena, this time with his eyes set on the New York Mayor’s office. Weiner would eventually lose the mayoral primary, following yet another Twitter sexting scandal. Old habits die hard, eh?

Meg Whitman

Former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman taught the world why it’s super-duper important to check every link you plan on posting to social media. At the end of a tweet about her then-opponent Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr., Whitman’s press secretary, who was responsible for the account, attached an unusual YouTube video of a cross-dressing bass player. (Editor’s note: Well, that escalated quickly)

The link to the intended video was believed to have been accidentally cut off at the end, thus leading those who clicked on it to the Korean cross-dressing bassist. Whitman’s official response to the tweet? “Oopsie.”  Whitman would go on to lose the campaign, but not before sinking $144 million of her own money into the charade.

Sarah Palin

Shakespeare
Sarah Palin’s apparent spirit animal.

Throughout his life, it is said that William Shakespeare invented over 1,700 words that are still commonly used in the English language. Apparently, he gave us the word “eyeball.” No, we’re not kidding. And it was Shakespeare who Former Alaska state Governor and Republican Vice President Nominee Sarah Palin said she was channeling when she made her own contribution to the English language a few years ago in a tweet to supporters of the then-controversial plan to build a mosque at Ground Zero in New York City. Palin, no stranger to making “interesting” comments, used the word “refudiated” in the tweet, apparently as a hybrid of the words “refute” and “repudiate.”

The Internet had a field day.

The point to be made here is that, while your social media presence alone certainly can’t make you, it can definitely break you.

Out of Context Statements/Gaffes

The dangerous thing about speeches is that they’re not always pre-written, well-rehearsed pieces of Oscar-worthy monologue. Sometimes they’re downright sloppy, especially when politicianss fumble their way through questions they don’t know how to answer or weren’t expecting, or when they’re caught off guard completely. Choosing appropriate diction is a true art form, and sometimes it’s really just easier to keep one’s mouth shut. Unfortunately, some politicians have to learn this lesson the hard way:

“We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad.”

— President Barack Obama, September 2011

Fun fact: There’s no such thing as an “intercontinental railroad.” Sorry, Barry! What President Obama meant to say was that we built the first trans-continental railroad; that is, a railroad connecting one end of a country to the other.

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

            — Former President George W. Bush, August 2004

This gem from former President George W. Bush came at the signing ceremony for a $417-billion defense spending bill. We still don’t know whether we should have laughed or cried when he said it, but we’re sure it was just an honest mistake.

“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

            — Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, March 2010

This out-of-context quote came from former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, during a speech she gave to the National Association of Counties about a proposed healthcare bill. While she didn’t actually mean the House should pass bills without first reading them, it made her the target of tons of negative ad campaigns.

“Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.”

            — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, March 2010

This iconic gaffe from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was in reference to unemployment numbers. Economists had predicted that 75,000 people would lose their jobs that month, and only 35,000 actually did. Reid wasn’t settling for lackluster unemployment numbers, but was commenting on how economists’ estimates were off by almost half. This quote is the quintessential example of how anyone can be made to sound like a real jerk when they’re taken out of context.

 “When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.”

            — Former President Richard Nixon, 1977

… Actually, we still have no idea about this one.

Bad Political Advertisements.

This midterm election is bringing unprecedented amounts of advertising money to the table, with overall purchased television spots up nearly 70 percent over 2010’s midterms. Now more than ever, candidates need to be exceptionally careful about the messages they choose to broadcast. We figure it’s a lot like buying a new car: think about what you want, settle on an idea, and then walk away. If you wake up the next morning and it’s still a good idea, do it. Here are a few political hopefuls who apparently skipped that last part:

As if having to watch their own tails wasn’t difficult enough, politicians also frequently have to dance on the fine line between good old-fashioned mudslinging and virulent low-blow tactics. Sometimes, going too far over the line can cost you everything – Just ask former Senator Elizabeth Dole.

Fun 5K Races You Need to Run

Fun 5k's you need to run

People participate in 5K runs for many reasons. They’re fun, challenging, healthy, and often times charitable. For some, running a 5K is a walk in the park. For others, it’s a challenge that takes weeks and sometimes even months to prepare for. Whether you’re a complete fitness freak who likes a good challenge, or someone just looking to have fun or give something back to your community, here are some awesomely fun 5Ks you should be looking out for.

The Color Run
Via The Color Run.

1. The Color Run

Known far and wide as “Happiest 5K on the Planet,” The Color Run is, by far, one of the most popular 5K races in the world. And with more than 170 events in over 30 countries, it’s also one of the biggest. The “race” isn’t about competing or time trialing (in fact, it’s not timed at all), but about having fun and celebrating good health. Throughout the course of the race, participants are caked in a variety of colored paint powders, but the real fun doesn’t begin until after the race ends – with a celebratory Finish Festival, complete with music, dancing, and you guessed it, more colored powder.

To top it off? Despite their tax classification as a for-profit company, since The Color Run’s inception, the event organizers have donated over $3 million to various charity organizations all over the world.

the spartan race
Via.

2. The Spartan Race

To put it plainly, Spartan Races are not for the faint of heart. This high-intensity classic mud run isn’t about fun or charity, but challenge and endurance. The series consists of three-, eight-, 12-, and 26-mile treks, each filled with barbed wire crawls, mud pits, various wall climbs, rope climbs, spear throws, and even fire pit jumps. You won’t find any dance parties, beers, or chocolate fondue at the end of this run – just good old-fashioned gratification.

Disney Marathon Weekend
Via.

3. Walt Disney Marathon Weekend

This is the only entry on our list that isn’t a nationally sponsored event, but hey, at least it’s held at the place where dreams come true, and not where they apparently go to die. Rather than putting on a boring one-run show, Disney takes racing to a whole new level. The weekend is host to an array of competitions, including a 10K, a full 26-mile marathon, and kid’s races, along with a variety of parties and activities. The most popular event of the weekend is the Walt Disney World 5K family race, where families run together through Future World and International World, encountering all of their favorite Disney characters along the way. Centered on family fun, the race isn’t timed and welcomes everyone from seasoned veterans to beginners.

Bacon Chase Atlanta
Via The Bacon Chase.

4. The Bacon Chase

Unlimited bacon. UNLIMITED BACON. UNLIMITED BACON. We feel like that’s all we need to say about this event, but for formality’s sake, we’ll elaborate. You run 3.1 miles (5K in miles) and eat bacon along the way. And then, at the end of the race, you eat more bacon. Unlimited bacon. That’s it. Oh, and they’ve also teamed up with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to raise money. You may both warm and stop your heart, all in one event!

Hot Chocolate 5k
Via The Hot Choclate 15/5K.

5. Hot Chocolate 15/5K

This fun run, known as America’s sweetest race, takes place in 15 cities across the country, including San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, and Nashville. The race is un-timed and open to anyone and everyone. Past participants give it bonus points for being exceptionally fun and well-organized. The Post Race Party is filled with music, a family-friendly kid zone, and of course, chocolate — so much chocolate. Each participant is given a finisher’s mug, filled with a heaping helping of chocolate fondue (with dippable items!) and a mug of hot chocolate. We’re not sure it’s the best post workout treat, but we print t-shirts for a living, so what do we know, anyway?

Warrior Dash
Via Warrior Dash.

6. Warrior Dash

Like the Spartan Race, this 5K mud run is here to test your physical strength and endurance. One of the most popular marathon races in the country, the Warrior Dash boasts more than 2 million participants in its famous “battleground,” in six countries and on four continents. A big charity run, the Warrior Dash has raised over $10 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – a number almost as unbelievable as the featured obstacles, which include 12-foot rope climb walls, fire pits, mud pits, and more. But like The Color Run, the best part of this race is the after party, which includes live music, viking swag, beer, and humongous turkey legs!

ROC Race
Via Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge.

7. Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge

More commonly known as the R.O.C. Race, this national event is billed as “the craziest 5K you will ever run,” and for good reason. This action-packed, obstacle-ridden run isn’t about endurance or hard work, but about wild and crazy fun for people of all skill and fitness levels. The only requirement is that you must be 13 years of age or older. The course, probably modeled after game shows like this (because Japan does game shows way better than we do), includes an abundance of wild obstacles like a Tarzan rope swing, a tire mile, jump balls, and the world’s largest moon bounce and water slide. Sounds more like a birthday party than a 5K race, to us!

The event’s organizers also work closely with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to help raise money to provide adaptive equipment, training, and competition expenses to injured veterans who wish to get involved in sports or competitive athletics.

23 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Shirt

23 ways to ruin a perfectly good shirt

Sometimes they get ruined by outside elements. Sometimes they become stale and boring. And sometimes you just plain outgrow them. No, we aren’t talking about sour relationships, we’re talking about t-shirts! Everybody has a few; those three or four shirts, hanging out at the bottom of your dresser drawer, just waiting for a chance to see the light of day again. Well, sorry over-sized Spitfire tees and baggy neon tank-tops, you’ve gone the way of bleached hair tips and JNCO jeans. It’s time to visit the great Gadzooks in the sky.

Here are 23 ways to give your tired old tees the appropriate send-off they so rightfully deserve:

1. Throw it in a volcano.

BOOM! That’s how you start a list!

can-of-t-shirts-volcano burning t-shirts

2. Wear it in a pie-eating contest.

Entering a pie-eating contest (or anything-eating contest, really) and leaving with a clean shirt is like going to a pet store and not petting everything with fur. Why even bother?

3. Compost it.

You know what would make that really terrible shirt you hate so much better? Throwing it in a hot, steamy pile of trash, filled with your used coffee grounds, egg shells, moldy fruits and veggies, and if you’re extra weird, toenail clippings and hair (yes, that’s a thing — we checked), and making compost fertilizer out of it. Who knows, maybe you could use it to grow a less terrible shirt!

4. Melt it into oblivion with science.

Mix appropriate parts sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide together and you’ll get to watch a wonderful garment of clothing turn into a wonderful pile of mush, like that one time in Breaking BadHooray science!

(Editor’s note: This is extremely dangerous. You should probably stick to composting it.)

5. Curse it into oblivion with ancient magic.

Shrunken heads, mystical spells, and devastating curses. If you really want to ruin a good shirt’s future, find yourself a witch doctor and lay down the law. Hooray magic!

Witch doctors parody cursing t-shirts
These guys look legit. Via.

6. Hit it with a laser beam.

A la James Bond in Goldfinger.

 7. Put it on a dog — any dog.

Because they’ll tear it right off and eat it — trust us.

8. Wrap it around a block of sodium and throw it in a lake.

Chemistry is terrifying. Mix sodium with chloride and you get common table salt. But mix sodium with water (H2O) and you have a recipe for a pretty awesome explosion. Wrap a shirt around a block of sodium, give it a good toss in the lake, and let the fun begin. Just be sure to wear gloves!

9. Take it to one of these guys’ concerts.

Take grotesque Sci-Fi costume pageantry and sprinkle it with a dash of thrash metal, and what do you get? The intergalactic space warriors also known as Gwar — and, like chemistry, they’re terrifying. This band mixes interesting and plot-heavy dialogue, metal music, and over-the-top live theatrics into a cocktail mixer, shakes it around, and then sprays it all over their audience in the form of gallons upon gallons of faux blood, toxic waste, and other ambiguous fluids — and everyone loves it. If you want to ruin a shirt (and everything else you’re wearing), this is the way to do it.

Gwar performing live, t-shirts getting dirty
… Blood cannon? Where do we sign up?! Via.

10. Two words:

Wood chipper.

11. Give your car a tuneup with it.

Why waste expensive paper towels to check your oil when you can turn a totally awful shirt into a few totally lovely shop rags?

12. Tie it around a hydrogen-filled balloon and then poke it with a long, flaming stick.

Extra emphasis on “long.”

car running into hydrogen balloon
Via.

13. Challenge a cowboy to a gunfight in it.

You’ll probably end up as dead as your shirt, but hey, it’s called “commitment,” OK?

14. Use it as a “Capote” in a bull fight.

Or just throw it at the bull and run away. Bonus points for shrill screams upon departure.

15. Wear it while eating spaghetti. Or tacos. Or buffalo wings.

BECAUSE EVERY. DARN. TIME.

boy gets messy pasta sprinkled on him.
He knows what we’re talking about. Via.

16. Eat a pastrami sandwich and then go on any of these.

This is too heinous even for us to imagine.

17. Gift it to a zombie.

Zombies are clumsy, unhygienic, and some of the messiest eaters of all time — ranking second only to babies. In honor of AMC’s The Walking Dead returning to T.V. this week, we figured a spot on our list was more than appropriate.

18. Throw it in the trash.

Because Oscar the Grouch can’t go shopping.

Oscar the Grouch looking sad.
No wonder why he’s always so grouchy. Via.

19. Lay it over a puddle for a lady.

Because chivalry isn’t dead.

20. Use it as a diaper.

The result is as catastrophic as throwing it in a volcano.

baby with fake mustache looking innocently into the camera.
Don’t let that cute mustache fool you. He’ll ruin every shirt you own — even the good ones!

21. Wrap it in bacon, dip it in honey, and tie it to a tree in the middle of the woods.

Or package it up and ship it out to us, because that actually sounds delicious. If a bear doesn’t find it, we’ll gladly take that tasty problem off your hands.

22. Give it to Hulk Hogan and watch magic happen.

Fact: This guy kept entire t-shirt companies in business throughout the 1980’s and 90’s.

23. Get yourself a nice, hot cup of coffee and go for a drive in stop-and-go traffic.

At this point, I should probably start wearing a raincoat to work.

motorist exhibiting road rage in rush hour traffic.
Via.

Your Band Should Make More Money

Your band should make more money

The formula seems simple: Write killer tunes, play your favorite dives, put out a groundbreaking record, and contact your local realtor, ’cause it’s time to buy a mansion with a chocolate fountain and a monkey butler! Easy peasy, right?

Hold on a minute, Jethro. Things don’t always work out like that.

Before you start surfing Craigslist for the right macaque, consider these ways to turn your favorite hobby into a viable revenue stream:

macaque
What’s a macaque? This. This is a macaque.

Sign to a Major and Make it Big

Signing to a major record label definitely has its benefits (PR teams to hype you up about that time you trashed your hotel room in Tuscaloosa, attorneys on retainer to represent you after you trashed your hotel room in Tuscaloosa, etc.), but if you’re under the impression that bands make their fortunes through record sales, you’re sadly mistaken.

The reality is only about 10 to 15 percent of profits ever see a band’s pockets, and even then, it usually gets split equally among the band members, band manager, and anyone else the band employs.

Not to mention, putting out a record costston of money, and you won’t see a dime until the record label gets their investment back.

Join the Stream Dream

Amazon-Mp3-logoIn a world of crowdsourced motion pictures and YouTube stardom, everyone is trying to get themselves a piece of the pie.

While quitting your day job and emerging as the next Jenna Marbles sounds awesome, the odds are anything but in your favor. While it’s difficult to measure just how many views your video needs to start making money, an acceptable guestimate is for every 1,000 views, you earn a little less than a dollar.
So do yourself (and the world) a favor and hold off on those acoustic covers of “All About that Bass,” ’cause it’ll probably take a while before you see any green.

Instead, look at streaming and download services like CD Baby, BandCamp, and ReverbNation, or others like Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes. But even then, unless you’re the next Macklemore, chances are you’re going to receive literal fragments of pennies per stream/download — Thom Yorke is still miffed about it.

 

Hit the Road, Jack

Common sense dictates that under ideal conditions, the more shows you play, the bigger your fan base will become, and the greater the crowd you’ll draw. But believe it or not, this “common sense” intuition is actually counterproductive. Playing the same five or six bars and venues a month can actually lessen your draw and really ruin the vibe of a set. If people know they can see you at every bar in a five-mile radius on any weekend night, they’ll be less inclined to make the trip.

The trick is to tour. Whether you’re just heading out for a long weekend or doing a month-long coast-to-coast’er, hitting the road is not only crucial to attracting new fans, but keeping already-existing fans interested. While this option isn’t for the faint of heart, there really is no replacement for good old fashioned hard work.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that touring isn’t the end-all-be-all source of revenue for musicians. Even bigger bands don’t always make decent bank on the road. Justin Bieber might make over a million dollars a night, but you’ll probably spend your first few treks eating Taco Bell and playing for gas money. Don’t go telling your boss at Foot Locker what’s really good just yet.

 

Custom Band Merch

If your band wants to make money, you need promotional products. It’s really that simple. While it’s not impossible to make money selling records, streaming music, and touring, merch is a revenue source that no band can do without, for a few reasons:

1. It’s one of the only real things a band has control over, aside from the music. A band’s merch should be as expressive and representative of their ideals as their music.

2. Giving your fans something to identify them with is an excellent way to promote your band, enhance your brand, and connect with the people who support you.

eleMMent PALAZZO
It’s a yacht, but it’s also an RV!

3. Band merchandise yields the highest revenue — plain and simple. While you need thousands of downloads, streams, or views on YouTube and other streaming services before you see a dollar, bands can make several dollars of profit per piece of merch sold, depending on the prices at which they buy and sell it.

It’s no secret that merchandise is a band’s cash cow, especially on tour. Just ask tween pop sensations OneDirection, who apparently net over $200 thousand in a single show. If you ever make it to that point, please buy one of these and invite us to come hang out for the weekend. Thanks!

Start a Cover Band

Here’s a true story: I was sitting at my local [island-themed chain restaurant] one afternoon, partaking in some fine half-priced appetizers and three-dollar draft beers, when something beautiful happened. There I was, polishing off some butterfly coconut shrimp and minding my own business when, off to my left, just outside of my peripheral, I heard what could only be described as a cheap, back alley, 80’s synthesizer-driven version of the UB40 classic, “Red Red Wine.” I was captivated. I stopped talking to the people with whom I’d come to the restaurant, and just mellowed out to the warm sounds and chill island vibe of urban New Jersey.

At one point, I got up to use the facilities and happened to make eye contact with the one man 80’s reggae band, who greeted me with a wave, smile, and gentle rhythmic head bob. Naturally, I shot back a loud ‘WOOOOOO!’ and a thumbs up. Fifteen dollars worth of three-dollar, 20-ounce draft beers does things to a man.

Adam Sandler in "The Wedding Singer"
Remember when Adam Sandler was funny?

As I returned to the table, I noticed that the man had ventured on over to talk with us. I introduced myself, and he asked if he could have a seat. He cut right to the chase: He wanted to assemble a group of “attractive young people” to accompany him at restaurants all over the state, and thought we were hip enough. He explained that clubs and restaurants paid very good money to even half-decent cover/bar bands, and that it would be the easiest money any of us would ever make. We were all a little weirded out (and by “we,” I mean, “everyone except me”), but I scribbled down his information and said we’d be in touch.

I went home that night and drunk-Googled my way to some pretty interesting facts. As it should happen, bar/cover bands do make far more than your average garage rock band. And if you can manage to break into the wedding band circuit? Now you’re talkin’! You’ll never be Slayer (unless you form a Slayer-inspired wedding band called “Butcher-er”), but you’ll also never be broke.

13 T-Shirts that Changed the Face of Rock and Roll Forever

13 t-shirts that changed the face of rock and roll
A band’s merchandise should be as unique and expressive as their music. Good “merch” should represent who they are and what they’re about, while still being able to capture the attention of not just casual listeners and current fans, but anyone who lays eyes on it. While there doesn’t exist a static formula for a successful band t-shirt design, a general rule of thumb is to be as unique as possible. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

But other times, for one reason or another, it blows up into something bigger than anyone ever imagined. Here are 13 t-shirts that forever changed the way we see rock and roll music.

1. Rolling Stones “Tongue and Lip Design” Tee:Rolling Stones Tongue and Lip T-Shirt

The number one spot on our list belongs to the undisputed king of rock and roll iconography — the Rolling Stones’ famous Tongue and Lip Design.

Created in 1971 by London artist John Pasche, the iconic logo first appeared on the Stones’ album, Sticky Fingers. Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger solicited designs from the Royal College of Art in 1969, and eventually settled on Pasche. Pasche has said that he wanted the overall theme for the logo to be anti-authoritarian, and that the first thing he noticed upon meeting Jagger was the remarkable size of his lips. Pasche put two and two together, and the result wound up defining what people see when they think of the legendary rock icons.

2. The Ramones “Presidential Seal” Tee:Ramones Presidential Seal T-Shirt

The debate over who started punk rock is one that will persist for as long as humans have ears. Was it The Ramones in New York? Was it The Sex Pistols in the U.K.? Maybe it was Detroit’s forgotten African-American proto-punk pioneers, Death? (Your’e welcome.) One thing that remains certain is that The Ramones did it faster, harder, and with more cajones than any of their contemporaries.

The Ramones’ famous “Presidential Seal” logo was created by  New York artist and longtime friend of the band Arturo Vega. According to Vega, he had just returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. and wanted to create a logo that would establish The Ramones as the quintessential all-American rock and roll band. The result was this famous logo, themed after the U.S. Presidential Seal. In The Ramones’ version, however, the eagle holds a baseball bat instead of a bundle of arrows, and the phrase “E Ploribus Unum” (“Out of many, one”) is replaced with the words “Look out below.” If you’ve been to a rock and roll concert in the past 40 years and aren’t blind, you’ve probably seen this shirt in the crowd.

3. Pink Floyd “The Dark Side of the Moon” Tee:Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon T-Shirt

Pink Floyd was one of the most revolutionary rock and roll bands of the 60’s and 70’s, and their album, The Dark Side of the Moon, is still considered one of the most influential rock records of all time. Since the record’s release in 1973 (over 40 years ago!), this t-shirt has attained cult status. Even if you don’t know who Pink Floyd is, we’d be willing to bet you recognize the iconic dispersive prism illustration logo. Who knew rock and roll and physics could be such a winning combination? Just kidding, we still hate physics.

(Editor’s Note: Not all of us hate physics.)

4. Led Zeppelin “USA Tour of ’77” Tee:Led Zeppelin T-Shirt

Being called one of the greatest, most innovative, and most influential rock bands of all time is a pretty big title; one that Led Zeppelin have worn proudly since their 1969 self-titled debut record. Aside from the importance of the band whom it represents, this tee is actually one of the only selections on our list that has a legacy of its own.

Led Zeppelin’s USA tour of 1977 was the last North American tour the band ever did. It sold over 1.3 million tickets, sold out the continent’s largest stadiums and arenas, and set records for the amount of money it made. For example, during the tour, Led Zeppelin played six sold out shows at New York City’s famous Madison Square Garden! Six! This t-shirt represents everything we know and love about rock and roll.

 

5. Grateful Dead “Steal Your Face” Tee:Grateful Dead Steal Your Face T-Shirt

The Grateful Dead is easily one of the weirdest bands in rock and roll history, and we mean that in earnest endearment. Over the band’s 30-year history, before Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, they released 22 albums, made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and developed one of the most loyal and unique fan bases in rock history. Yet, they never had a #1 Billboard chart recording — not an album, not a single, nothing. In fact, most “Deadheads” will tell you the Grateful Dead’s best recordings didn’t come out of studios and weren’t distributed through major labels, but came from backyard bootleggers and amateur audio “engineers” who recorded their live concert sets  — a practice not only allowed by the band, but encouraged.

The iconic “Steal Your Face” logo, developed and released in 1973 by the band’s longtime friend and artist Owsley Stanley, was a big hit with fans (though, admittedly, the record on which it first appeared was not) and immediately began appearing on concert merch. Over the years, it has emerged as one of rock’s most recognizable images.

6. Metallica “Metallica” Tee:Metallica-Logo-T-Shirt

When not suing people for stealing their music or being the only real band to play a concert on all seven continents, the guys in Metallica like to spend their spare time being one of the most widely known bands in rock and roll, today. Love ’em or hate ’em, James Hetfield and the rest of the boys re-wrote the book on how to make a living playing music and, in the process, their spikey-ended logo has become one of the most recognizable images in not just rock and roll, but the world. Metallica – 1 | Everybody Else – 0.

7. Aerosmith “Aeroforce One” Tee:Aerosmith AeroForce One T-Shirt

Here’s a fun fact: Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock and roll band of all time. They have sold over 150 million records worldwide and performed over 2,000 concerts, in over 48 countries, across five continents. Unlike most of the selections on this list, the Aeroforce One tee didn’t make the cut because it’s a popular and highly sold piece of merchandise, but because it’s a famously coveted nugget of rock and roll history.

The Aeroforce One shirt references Aerosmith’s famous fan club of the same name. The shirt wasn’t sold to the public, and was offered only to fan club members. But that didn’t stop Garth Algar from rocking it in Wayne’s World, and if we’ve learned anything over the years about being cool, it’s that Garth Algar is the godfather of “geek chic” and can do no wrong. In Garth We Trust.

8. Red Hot Chili Peppers “Star of Affinity” Tee:

Red Hot Chili Peppers Star of Affinity T-Shirt

For a symbol that’s consistently voted one of the most recognizable logos in rock and roll history, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic “Star of Affinity” logo is surprisingly meaningless. According to RHCP frontman (and original designer of the logo) Anthony Kiedis, the band was asked by record label executives to produce a last-minute logo for promotional purposes. So Kiedis sat down, scribbled the first thing that came to mind, and the famous eight-pronged star was born.

Yup. The symbol used to represent one of America’s most well-known Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, a band that has released 10 studio albums that have sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, was just a random and forced scribble on a piece of paper. Either way, even if their version of  “Love Rollercoaster” didn’t speak directly to your heart (and with lyrics like, “Your love is like a rollercoaster baby / baby I wanna ride yeah aw aw aw aw!” how could it not?) you’d still recognize this famous logo anywhere.

 

9. Nirvana “Smiley Face” Tee:

Nirvana Smiley Face T-Shirt

“Who cares about Nirvana?” … Is something no one said, ever, unless you’re Rush Order Tees’ resident content person, me. Despite my personal distaste for this band, they were pioneers of one of rock and roll’s most prominent sub-genres, grunge, and Kurt Cobain was a really smart guy, save for the whole “Courtney Love” thing. Hey, we all make mistakes, right?

Rumor has it that Cobain himself drew the logo on his apartment wall one evening after getting good and stoned, but the meaning behind the logo is heavily debated among fans. Theories range from the logo being Cobain’s portrait of Axl Rose, to it just being a “creative interpretation” (Read as: “ripoff”) of a logo on the marquee of a now-defunct, but then-popular Seattle strip club.

10. Black Flag “Four-Bar Logo” Tee:Black Flag T-Shirt

Walk into any dive bar in the country, especially in the South Bay area of Southern California, and the odds of spotting at least one Black Flag logo t-shirt are pretty good. Black Flag’s four-bar logo is a pillar of rock and roll iconography, and about as punk rock as it gets (for a hardcore band, at least).

According to its creator, Raymond Ginn (brother of original lead singer Greg Ginn), the idea behind the rather basic logo, which consists of four vertical black rectangles, was simple: If a white flag represents surrender, a black flag represents anarchy and the spirit of rebellion. The logo and its resulting t-shirts have become staples of the punk rock, hardcore, and Beach Boys communities.

11. AC/DC “Lightning Bolt” Tee:ACDC Lightning Bolt T-Shirt

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, and often referred to as rock and roll’s thunder from down under, AC/DC is one of the oldest and most influential bands of all time, even if Angus Young has always been too old for his creepy schoolboy outfits. Though officially formed in 1973, their iconic lightning bolt logo wasn’t conceived until 1977, by famous artist Gerard Huerta. Since its first appearance almost 40 years ago, the simple, yet iconic design is consistently ranked one of the greatest and most recognizable rock logos of all time.

12. The Misfits “Skull” Tee:Misfits Skull T-Shirt

In their heyday, The Misfits were one of the most popular bands in rock and roll. The “horror punk” pioneers from little Lodi, New Jersey, became known and loved for their thematic mix of punk rock and horror film imagery. Song titles like, “Mommy Can I Go Kill Tonight” and “Die, Die My Darling” pepper the band’s discography, and it’s not weird at all.

While original Misfits singer Glenn Danzig may only be 5-foot-4-inches tall, his old band’s logo is larger than life. The famous Skull logo, which first appeared on the band’s “Horror Business” single in 1979, was first believed to be inspired by a movie poster for the 1946 horror film serial, The Crimson Ghost. However, there’s some compelling evidence out there to suggest The Misfits actually stole their logo from a little-known Stan Lee comic.

The only thing we know for certain is that the classic Misfits skull logo tee is one of the most prevalent pieces of punk rock and roll memorabilia.

13. CBGB “Classic” Tee:CBGB Classic Logo T-Shirt

At the risk of sounding cliche, we’re going to say that CBGB’s is the place where it all began. Started in 1973 as a would-be country and blue grass bar (CBGB actually stands for Country Blue Grass and Blues) by the famed Hilly Kristal, CBGB’s would become the incubator from which the eggs of rock and roll sub-genres like punk, hardcore, and new wave would eventually hatch. The famous CBGB stage became the soap box for some of America’s most iconic rock and roll outfits, including Patti Smith, The Ramones, Joan Jett (remember “I Love Rock and Roll?”), and later, hardcore bands like The Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, and Gorilla Biscuits. The classic font of the shirt is based off the original CBGB’s sign, hand painted by Kristal himself, upon the venue’s opening. Even if you didn’t know what “CBGB” stood for, you probably know what it represents — the birthplace of American underground rock.