Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg has begun hiring meme-makers on Instagram to promote his presidential campaign on the internet, according to The New York Times.
Bloomberg's campaign is working with Meme 2020, a company made by people behind influential social media accounts. The lead strategist of the Meme 2020 project is Mick Purzycki, the chief executive of Jerry Media, a media and marketing company that came under fire from comedians last year concerning improper crediting when reposting memes and jokes. The founder of Jerry Media has no involvement in Meme 2020.
Purzycki used influencers he connected with from his association with Jerry Media, including GrapeJuiceBoys, who currently have over 2.7 million followers, Jerry Media's own account, with over 13.3 million followers and Tank.Sinatra, with over 2.3 million followers. With these accounts and the other accounts involved in Meme 2020, the campaign can reach a collective audience of over 60 million followers.
Jerry Media also rose to infamy in 2017 as the promoter of the disastrous Fyre Festival, a botched music festival that charged $12,000 per ticket, featured none of the planned concerts and spawned two documentaries.
The campaign began this week with posts featuring fake direct messages from Bloomberg asking for help with his campaign.
One example had Bloomberg messaging Tank.Sinatra "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?" with a photo of Bernie Sanders that has become a meme recently.
Another post had Bloomberg asking GrapeJuiceBoys if they could "post an original meme to make me look cool for the upcoming Democratic primary?"
All of the ads posted so far feature a disclosure stating that they are campaign ads. Many thought the posts were satirical.
Reactions to the ad campaign have been mixed, with some finding the campaign humorous and others uncomfortable with the platform being used by a billionaire trying to "buy" young votes.
One influencer who refused to support the campaign was Josh Ostrovsky, the person behind the Instagram account TheFatJewish, who commented on a post supporting the campaign saying, "They asked me to do it, I said no. I grew up in New York City so I can tell you firsthand, Bloomberg is a colossal s*%tbag," according to The Verge.
"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," said Sabrina Singh, a senior national spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, according to the Times.
Teenagers, including many who aren't yet of voting age, expressed interest in creating sponsored content for Bloomberg. "I would be down - bread is bread," said the teenager behind the Instagram account BigDadWhip.
Bloomberg's campaign has spent an average of $1 million per day on Facebook advertising in the first two weeks of February, according to NBC News, five times what the Trump campaign spent in the same period.