Michael Bloomberg Launches Astroturfed Meme Campaign

Mike Bloomberg smiles
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Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg has reportedly contracted internet meme-makers and marketers with more than 60 million followers in total to post sponsored content on Instagram promoting his campaign. According to one of the marketers involved, the memes’ engagement “came from people being confused whether or not it was real.”

The New York Times reports that Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg has hired some of the biggest meme-makers and influencer markets on the internet to spread sponsored post promoting his presidential campaign across Instagram. Bloomberg’s campaign is reportedly working with Meme 2020, a company formed by individuals behind some of the most influential social media accounts.

The lead strategist behind Meme 2020 is Mike Purzycki, the CEO of Jerry Media, a media and marketing firm that has made a name for itself in the online influencer market. The company owns some of the most notable and powerful meem accounts on Instagram, but Jerry Media suffered some controversy in recent years following a discussion about the ownership of content in meme culture and the reposting of other people’s work.

The Bloomberg meme marketing campaign started this week and has placed sponsored pots on multiple Instagram accounts including @GrapeJuiceBoys, a meme page with more than 2.7 million followers. Jerry Media’s own account has 13.3 million followers, another member of Meme 2020 @Tank.Sinatra boasts a follower count of 2.3 million.

The accounts all posted Bloomberg campaign ads made to look like fake direct messages from the candidate. It seems that the point of the campaign is to paint Bloomberg as a self-aware ironically out of touch character who’s misunderstanding of meme culture is exploited for comic effect. An example of a fake Instagram DM conversation between Bloomberg and the @Tank.Sinatra account can be seen below:

The director of influencer marketing at Brandfire, George Resch, stated that @Tank.Sinatra has been Meme 2020’s main liaison with the meme community. So far, Resch himself has posted two ads on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign. All of the ads posted so far feature disclosures that they are ads but many followers, expecting jokes and memes, assume that the disclosures are satirical and the meme makers are in fact ridiculing Bloomberg.

“It’s the most successful ad that I’ve ever posted,” Mr. Resch said, “and I think a lot of it came from people being confused whether or not it was real.” While some have praised the ad campaign, others have criticized the move, “This is a clear example of what wealth can get you votes. Bloomberg’s a billionaire and is able to pull in endorsements like this,” commented user @rebelwithoutapause_.

Memers involved with Meme 2020 include: @MyTherapistSays, @WhitePeopleHumor, @TheFunnyIntrovert, @KaleSalad, @Sonny5ideUp, @Tank.Sinatra, @ShitheadSteve, @adam.the.creator, @moistbudda, @MrsDowJones, @TrashCanPaul, @cohmedy, @NeatDad, @FourTwenty, @GolfersDoingThings, @DrGrayFang, @MiddleClassFancy and @DoYouEvenLift. Together, the collective has an audience of more than 60 million followers.

Sabrina Singh, a senior national spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, said in a statement: “Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world. 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.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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