The Trump brand moves beyond real estate to sunglasses, bottled water, chocolate bars


Donald Trump is seen in his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan. (Jennifer S. Altman/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

It’s the morning after the Miss USA pageant, and the event’s co-owner, Donald Trump, is attending to business.

Sitting in his Trump Tower office, he examines a printout of the ratings (“Look at these, these are great”) and then moves on to other Trump-branded items, of which there are many.

On his desk is a pile of photographs and renderings of Trump golf courses he owns in Scotland and Los Angeles, and a third in Miami, the Doral, that he would buy the following Monday for $150 million.

His assistant comes in to hand him a black-and-white prototype of the new logo for the property, which has five championships golf courses and is being renamed Trump National Doral. “Eight hundred acres in Miami,” he said. “It’s phenomenal. What a piece of property. Just bought it. Can you imagine, right in the middle of Miami? It’s a tremendous place. So we’re going to fix that up and make it nice.”

Sitting in a bag behind him is a sampling of new Trump cuff links, to be offered alongside Trump suits, shirts, shoes and ties at Macy’s. He pulls out a sleeve of the gold- and silver-colored prototypes. “I have to approve all this stuff. This is the little things that you don’t see,” he said.

Trump grew up in real estate, cutting his teeth on affordable housing developments with his father, Fred Trump, in Brooklyn, Queens and East Orange, N.J., before setting out for Manhattan.

Today his name is plastered on more than real estate; in addition to “The Apprentice” and Macy’s products, there are more than a dozen books, a modeling agency, sunglasses, bottled water and chocolate bars made to look like bars of solid gold.

Not everything “Trump” succeeds, but the evolution of his brand into a synonym for wealth benefits the real estate business, according to Trump and his family. His son, Don Jr., who leads development of the 1,400-acre golf resort in Scotland, said he spends less than half of what competitors do on marketing because his father creates his own press.

“You couldn’t buy the type of publicity that he is able to get just by, you know, talking about something,” Don Trump Jr. said. “I think any other real estate developer would kill for that power.”

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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