NEW YORK – For most people, a police mug shot would be a mark of shame that they would do their best to erase.

For Donald Trump, it is a branding opportunity and a political weapon.

The scowl, vindictive, captured in a Georgia jail on Thursday after Trump faced racketeering and conspiracy charges has quickly become his campaign symbol for 2024.

T-shirts, mugs, stickers and beverage coolers featuring a serving or former US President’s first mugshot were released by his team within hours of the photo’s publication.

The image of the 77-year-old – head tilted slightly, eyes locked on the camera – is accompanied by the words “Never Surrender” in capital letters on the official merchandise.

Remarkably, the merchandise is missing the local sheriff’s badge watermark seen in the image released by the authorities.

While such a photo would certainly put any other political candidate to shame, for Trump it fits his narrative of defiant, heroic sacrifice.

“This mugshot will forever go down in history as a symbol of America’s resistance to tyranny,” said a Trump 2024 donation email, which asked supporters to donate $47 (S$63). to donate in exchange for a t-shirt with the image.

New York marketing guru Daniel Binns said the photo could be a “hugely powerful” branding tool for Trump.

“As a marketer, that’s his genius — that he can take whatever is said, whatever is accused, whatever image is created, and turn it into something that represents the story he wants to tell,” he said Das managing director, marketing consultancy Interbrand North America told AFP.

Mr. Binns even compared it to the “Hope” poster from Barack Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign.

“It couldn’t be more different in terms of what it represents, but that was an equally iconic image piece,” he said.

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