Elvis Presley's manager sold "I Hate Elvis" badges as a way to make money from people who weren't buying Elvis merchandise.
Sensing a marketing opportunity that no music manager had ever considered before, Colonel Parker signed a deal with a Beverly Hills movie merchandiser for $40,000. The goal was to turn Elvis into a brand.
It was a revolutionary strategy, as it was the first all-out merchandising campaign ever aimed at the teen market. In just a few months, over 50 different Elvis-themed products were produced, from charm bracelets and necklaces to scarves, teddy bear perfume, Topps bubble gum cards, and sneakers… to record players, hats, and lipsticks in "Heartbreak Pink" and "Hound Dog Orange" – sold with the slogan, "Keep Me Always On Your Lips."
The Wall Street Journal reported that by the end of 1957, Elvis merchandise had grossed over $22 million dollars. By 1962, Colonel Parker's share of that booty would become an eye-popping 50%. His most ingenious product, though, was the "I Hate Elvis" buttons. The Colonel even made money from people who despised his hip-swiveling star.