Meme sites and Reddit boards have long shared a tidbit of Elvis’s history that people find hard to believe. Elvis Presley’s manager once sold “I Hate Elvis” badges so he could make money off of people who hated The King just as he did with fans. And it appears to be true.
Selling I Hate Elvis badges
Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker was quite the marketing genius. He was also excellent at making himself money in any way possible. Many of Elvis’s early music and performance deals paid Parker half of the money.
By the end of 1956, Elvis’s merchandise was bringing in $22 million! For this, Parker got 25% of the profits. But it was a little reverse psychology that made him even more money.
Not everyone loved Elvis. And we all know that when something or someone is super popular, people take great pride in outwardly hating it to somehow set themselves apart from the “masses.” (Not to mention that older generations saw Elvis as a corrupting influence.)
As a result, Colonel Parker decided to make both sides happy and created “I Hate Elvis” badges for non-fans. That way he could make money off of the other side too. (Too bad he didn’t come up with an “I feel ambivalent about Elvis” badge – he could have covered all his bases.)
In a book titled Colonel (The True Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley), author Alanna Nash mentions the badges. She states:
“Parker, who tied on a vendor’s apron to peddle both I LOVE ELVIS and I HATE ELVIS buttons to folks who reacted strongly one way or another, didn’t care what the newsmen said as long as they said it — and paid their own admission to the shows.”
All press is good press if you’re making money off of it, apparently! You can still find vintage “I hate Elvis” buttons online. — WTF fun facts