Skip to main content

What Mike Bloomberg’s sponsored political memes mean for future elections

On Wednesday night, Instagram was flooded with memes. 

But these weren’t normal memes. They were political memes. Sponsored political memes. From the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City mayor, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg. 

Related Videos

The memes were, well, meme-like in nature — made to resemble direct messages, where Bloomberg asked popular pages like @grapejuiceboys, @fuckjerry, and @thefunnyintrovert to help make him more relatable online, or share a “viral” image of him. All with the caption, “yes this is really #sponsored by @mikebloomberg.”

The flurry of satirical memes were sent out around 5 p.m. Wednesday from nearly two dozen accounts with millions of followers in total. Social media erupted, and for a moment it was all chaos and confusion, until a connection was made. 

Political advertising has officially hit meme accounts. Wow.

— Greg Hempenius (@ghempi) February 13, 2020

meme accounts are posting sponcon about bloomberg??? kick me into the sun

— morgan sung (@morgan_sung) February 13, 2020

The New York Times reported that the Instagram eruption was part of Meme2020, an effort between the Bloomberg campaign and Jerry Media, “a media and marketing company that is a powerful force in the influencer economy.” You might also know Jerry Media from its role in the ill-fated Fyre Festival

Sabrina Singh, a spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign, told Digital Trends in a statement that while memes are new to presidential campaigns, “we’re betting it will be an effective component to reach people where they are and compete with President Trump’s powerful digital operation.”  

Not just Bloomberg

Donald Trump’s team has spent more than $21 million on Facebook ads since May 2018. To combat Trump’s spending, Bloomberg’s team has been dropping more than $1 million a day on the social network over the past few weeks, according to NBC. He’s also come out against his fellow Democratic candidates who call for the breakup of big tech, saying “Breaking things up just to be nasty is not an answer.”

This isn’t Bloomberg’s first outreach to internet influencers either. The Daily Beast reported last week that, in another viral stint, the Bloomberg campaign was advertising on Tribe, a platform where social media influencers can connect with advertisers and team up to make branded content. For a flat $150 fee, creators would post about Bloomberg’s electability and his ability to “rise above the fray.” 

You could say Trump meme’d his way to the presidency, too. Google “Trump shares meme” and a stockpile of bizarre tweets surface. Trump’s also been known to share dystopian-esque memes, and include byte-worthy bits into speeches that send his base into frenzy.

So memes are not new. Even political memes are not new — politicians know what makes a viral moment, and often play along in order to capture as many likes, favorites, and retweets as they can. 

Take House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sarcastic clapback during Trump’s second State of Union address. Or her ripping up his speech after his third. 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Oli Scarff / Getty Images

What is new, however, is viral political #sponcon, or sponsored content. 

“You have to meet voters where they are using any means at your disposal, so this is a smart strategy by the Bloomberg team,” said Eric Koch, a Democratic strategist based in New York. 

And that’s exactly what Reid Hailey, co-founder and CEO of Doing Things Media, thought when he was approached by Mick Purzycki, head of the Meme 2020 project. Reid knew the type of mockery Bloomberg’s campaign proposed would be a hit among his combined audience of more than 50 million people.

“We specialize in making people laugh, and when this campaign was brought to us, we wanted to jump on the opportunity to be included on it,” said Reid in a statement to Digital Trends. 

Reid and his team own and operate over 20 “top comedy accounts” that include @shitheadsteve, @nochaser, @middleclassfancy, @trashcanpaul, @golfersdoingthings, @gamersdoingthings, @festivalist, @doyouevenlift, @neatdad, @neatmom, and @fourtwenty. 

With this kind of pull, no wonder social media was set ablaze Wednesday night. Viral meme accounts can reach millions of users in just a matter of minutes. And other political campaigns may be taking notice. 

“I suspect you will see more of this in the future,” said Koch. “We’ve already seen how effective it is.”

Editors' Recommendations

What is a Facebook Pixel? Meta’s tracking tool, explained
Meta, formerly Facebook.

If you have a website for your business and you're wondering how well your ads are reaching prospective customers, you'll probably want to be able to measure that to make sure that the money you've spent on advertising for your business is money well spent. Meta (the parent company of social media platforms Facebook and Instagram) offers a tool that can measure that by capturing how your customers interact with your business' website.

At one point, this tool was known as a Facebook Pixel. But since the technology company's recent rebranding to Meta, the tool also underwent a name change and is now known as the Meta Pixel.

Read more
Meta found over 400 mobile apps ‘designed to steal’ Facebook logins
Social media mobile apps on a smartphone screen, all on a textured gray fabric background.

If you frequently use your Facebook login to sign into new mobile apps you've installed, you may want to pay attention to Meta's latest announcement.

On Friday, Facebook's parent company Meta published a blog post written by its Director of Threat Disruption David Agranovich, and Ryan Victory, a Malware Discovery and Detection engineer at Meta. The post detailed Meta's discovery of over 400 mobile apps "that target people across the internet to steal their Facebook login information." Essentially, Meta found hundreds of mobile apps that were "designed to steal"  the login information of Facebook users by having those users log in to these apps with their Facebook login information.

Read more
When is the best time to post on Facebook?
A smartphone with the Facebook app icon on it all on a white marble background.

Knowing when to publish your Facebook posts to gain maximum exposure is important if you're trying to bring more attention to your brand or business. But figuring out the best timing can be a bit tricky as there's no real clear-cut answer that works for every Facebook page. And that's because the optimal timing for different Facebook pages will vary depending on the browsing/viewing habits of their respective audiences.

In the guide below, we'll answer a few of your questions about when to post on Facebook (generally), and we'll mention some ways to figure out the best publish times for your specific Facebook page.
Is it better to post in the morning or at night?

Read more