Could an icy, gas station staple be the magic elixir that brings the nation's divided politicians together?
Yesterday, 7-Eleven's iconic Slurpee brand got an unexpected moment in the national spotlight when President Barack Obama mentioned it by name during a news conference, and the convenience store company is moving quickly to seize on the presidential attention.
"The president invited us to this discussion, and we can bring the Slurpees," said Margaret Chabris, director of corporate communications for 7-Eleven, Inc.
The presidential mention came after a reporter asked the president if he'd invite Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) over for a Slurpee, playing off Obama's use of the Slurpee as a punch line while campaigning for Democrats this fall.
"They're delicious drinks," Obama quipped. "The Slurpee summit," he added, picking up on another reporter's line.
It might have been a passing joke, but the folks at 7-Eleven tasted a real opportunity. The company has already offered to install Slurpee machines in the White House to cater a Slurpee Summit.
"We're such a part of pop culture," said Rita Bargerhuff, the VP and Chief Marketing Officer for 7-Eleven, Inc.,reflecting on the presidential mention of the company's product. "We are part of the nomenclature for the American public."
White House Laughs Off Idea of Slurpee Summit
The White House laughed off the idea of an actual Slurpee summit today, but 7-Eleven representatives say they're pushing forward with the idea. They plan to drive Slurpee trucks from Dallas to Washington D.C., beginning Friday, giving free Slurpees to Americans along the way.
Slurpee also plans to create a new flavor called Purple for the People. It tastes like berry, and it's the color you get, of course, when you mix red and blue. 7-Eleven officials insist that Slurpee is non-partisan.
An ad campaign featuring the purple drink has already been drawn up, though neither the president's image nor words will be used.
The company also offered to put Slurpee machines in Rep. John Boehner's office on Capitol Hill, but in an interview with Diane Sawyer today, the presumptive Speaker of the House didn't seem so excited about the frozen drink.
"I don't know about a Slurpee. How about a glass of merlot?" Boehner said.
The White House frowns on the use of the president's image for commercial purposes, but plenty of companies have tried to capitalize on the Obama touch.
The clothing company Weatherproof used a photo of Obama wearing one of their jackets on a Times Square billboard. The image of the president, standing on the Great Wall of China, was used without Obama's authorization, and it was eventually removed at the request of the White House.
First Lady Michelle Obama's penchant for brands like J. Crew and White House | Black Market has helped those companies sell out of certain styles, though neither company uses that informal endorsement to market their clothing.
So what exactly is a presidential endorsement worth in Slurpee sales?
"I think we're going to find out," said Chabris.