U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s campaign is paying social media influencers to back him in the hope of reaching younger voters by posting memes as part of its social media offensive ahead of the 2020 election.
His campaign has commissioned some of the internet's top-viral creators to generate content about him that has reached tens of millions of followers.
The former New York Mayor's campaign director said its meme strategy was new to presidential politics. He has already spent more than $300m in his bid to win the White House.
The pig people who run Fuck Jerry & other meme-stealing accounts are being paid to promote Mike Bloomberg. https://t.co/mEviwXYq2I— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) February 13, 2020
Bloomberg, a former Republican, is one of eight remaining contenders vying to become the Democratic presidential candidate who will challenge President Donald Trump in November's election.
wow thank you for the meme, mr bloomberg! pic.twitter.com/IFJCKRwMR2— CollegeHumor (@CollegeHumor) February 13, 2020
Sabrina Singh, Bloomberg's national spokeswoman, said: "Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world.”
michael bloomberg has been paying meme-sharing accounts on instagram to post sponsored bloomberg memes that look like chats with bloomberg. here is an example of one of the sponsored posts. pic.twitter.com/8CH6dqzozx— Current Affairs (@curaffairs) February 13, 2020
"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," Singh said.
@GrapeJuiceBoys - an account that often posts memes about black culture and has 2.7m followers - confirmed it had produced paid content for the Bloomberg campaign, but said it did not personally endorse the candidate.
Posts about Bloomberg have also appeared in @Tank.Sinatra (2.3m followers) and the account run by Jerry Media (14.9m followers), as well as several others.
Mike Bloomberg's meme campaign is the most innovative digital strategy, by far, to connect with voters under the age of 25, who are notoriously hard to reach.
In the 2008 election, many candidates used Twitter to reach millennials.
In 2016 candidates adopted Snapchat.
Targeting ads on Instagram meme accounts is a fresh tactic curated for Generation Z (those born in the late-1990s).
To win this audience the Bloomberg digital team has ditched television ads and even Facebook, as many Gen Z-ers prefer Instagram, Snapchat, VSCO and TikTok.
Refusing to catalogue paid political ads because the Bloomberg campaign found a workaround means there will be less transparency for the content he is paying to promote. Mike Bloomberg cannot be allowed to buy an election with zero accountability. https://t.co/JVTIWt2HEz— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 14, 2020
A billionaire paying for memes could deter young people from voting for him, however. But if they don't vote for Mr Bloomberg their parents or grandparents could still find him appealing, should their Gen Z offspring convince them of his 'cool factor.'
By using self-deprecating humor and leaning into his billionaire status, he is positioning himself as the only person who can beat Donald Trump.
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