Photo Credit: Getty
For those not-so-new voters out there, you may remember those trendy “Vote or Die” shirts during the 2004 elections. Made popular by the man then known as P. Diddy, this catchy slogan was sported by celebrities everywhere on plain white tees with black and red lettering.
Photo Credit: "Vote or Die" Campaign
Back in 2004, President George W. Bush was up for re-election against Democratic candidate John Kerry. Social media was just in its infancy—everyone was just learning how to use Facebook, and we were watching our favorite celebrities on television channels like MTV. A megacelebrity at the time, P. Diddy became inspired to get more young people to vote by using fashion and media with a startling message.
Through both public appearances and those trendy tees, “Vote or Die” soon became a part of 2004 vernacular. Backed up by a wide-range of celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Mariah Carey and Paris Hilton, the hottest item to wear became the P. Diddy approved T-shirt.
Photo Credit: Getty
Never before had a rap or pop music mogul embraced the "right to vote" idea with such passion. It certainly was an interesting answer to Diddy's critics who claimed he promoted a bad image to youth.
Unfortunately, P. Diddy’s campaign wasn’t very successful; few young people turned out to vote, and not many of those T-shirt wearing celebrities turned out either. In 2015, the now-christened "Puff Daddy" recanted his 2004 campaign calling voting “a scam.”
“We started Vote or Die and from the community we’re in, we’re not with hearing too much of the bull****,” he told Hip-Hop Weekly. “So that’s why we get disenfranchised; [we’re] disconnected because nothing that they’re saying actually relates to us.”
Although the campaign didn’t turn out as the 2004 P. Diddy had planned, this trendy voting swag did urge young people and minorities to vote, no matter their political leanings.
Today, the "Vote or Die" tees may be collector's items, but the idea of election-related clothing is on the rise as the candidates fill their online campaign stores with everything from tank tops to sweaters.
You can find the latest in campaign slogan shirts here.