Michael Bloomberg’s Campaign Is Using Paid Meme Sponsorship to Appeal to Young VotersPhoto by Drew Angerer/Getty Politics News Michael Bloomberg
You might remember Jerry Media (perhaps more popularly known as @fuckjerry) from their hand in promoting the Fyre Festival, which ended so badly that two feature documentaries were made about its epic failure. Now Mike Purzycki, the chief executive of Jerry Media, is the lead strategist on the Meme 2020 project, which is working with billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign in order to get influencers to post sponsored content about his candidacy.
The New York Times reports that in January, Purzycki was able to convince a number of Instagram influencers (most of whom he met through his association with Jerry Media) to produce what are effectively ads for Bloomberg’s campaign. The media campaign launched this week, with content from popular Instagram accounts @GrapeJuiceBoys (with more than 2.7 million followers), @Tank.Sinatra (more than 2.3 million followers) and @fuckjerry (which has more than 13.3 million followers), among others.
Each of the ads are formatted so that they appear to be screengrabs of Bloomberg DMing each of the influencers, pleading with them to make him look “cool” via meme. While each of the posts is openly disclosed as sponsored, some users were reportedly still confused about the validity of their appearance.
The @Tank.Sinatra ad reads: “Mr. Tank: I’ve been waiting for my meme for so long that I learned how to make memes myself in photoshop. What do you think of this one?” Which is followed by a butchered meme of Bernie Sanders (“Once again, I’m asking for … ”) in which Bloomberg asserts that while his finger might be somewhat on the pulse, it is absolutely not adept at Photoshop.
“(Yes this is really sponsored by @mikebloomberg),” reads the caption by @Tank.Sinatra.
The founder of @Tank.Sinatra, George Resch, seems to be the primary conduit between Meme 2020 and the community of posters that fuels it. He also posted a Bloomberg ad from the @GrapeJuiceBoys account.
In that ad, Bloomberg seems self-aware enough to know he needs serious help looking “cool,” but attests that his enormous wealth has given him some definite clout, announcing: “I put Lamborghini doors on the Escalade.”
Bloomberg again touts his extreme wealth in another ad with @fuckjerry, who says that creating a meme for the campaign would cost “like a billion dollars.” Bloomberg simply replies: “What’s your Venmo?”
“Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world,” Sabrina Singh, a senior national spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, said in a statement to the Times. “While a meme strategy may be new to presidential politics, we’re betting it will be an effective component to reach people where they are and compete with President Trump’s powerful digital operation.”
The campaign also recently hired Eric Kuhn, who is famous in Hollywood for being the first self-described “Social Media Agent,” representing online talent through United Talent Agency.
According to The Daily Beast, the Bloomberg campaign is offering $150 for influencers to create pro-Bloomberg content through a service called Tribe that connects social media influencers with brands (which apparently Bloomberg is now).
It seems like Bloomberg is waving his money around wherever he thinks it might help—even if it means accumulated losses for the Democratic party as a whole.
This story is wild. Democrats lost a very winnable seat in the Connecticut state House after the Democratic candidate’s campaign manager bolted for @MikeBloomberg’s campaign mere weeks before the election. https://t.co/g08VpSKjRRpic.twitter.com/Tc9pFxyOO7
— Ben Spielberg (@BenSpielberg) February 13, 2020
As reported by The Intercept, Bloomberg lured away the campaign manager of Democratic hopeful Jennifer Lepper, who was vying for a seat in the Connecticut State House, just three weeks before the election. Lepper’s campaign began to flounder, and she lost the election by a mere 79 votes, giving Republicans the seat once again.
What’s even more important to realize, outside of humor and ragging, is that Bloomberg caused a volatile environment for black and brown residents of New York City for his entire tenure as mayor. Leftist nonprofit group Gravel spun their own version of a fictionalized DM between Bloomberg and them, criticizing the fact that none of these sponsored posts even scratch the surface of Bloomberg’s policies.
Excited to announce we’ve been sponsored by the Mike Bloomberg campaign! pic.twitter.com/2BtUwhIiov
— The Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) February 13, 2020
Sure, Bloomberg isn’t the first candidate to have memes propel his popularity—Sanders and Yang (who dropped out of the race earlier this week) had a bounty of memes and references surrounding their campaigns, though those generally came from their supporters as a way to spread their reasoning for supporting their respective candidates, mostly through humor and hopefulness for a better future. Bloomberg, in contrast, comes off as nothing more than a shill.