This morning, Instagram followers of hugely popular meme accounts like “tank.sinatra” (2.3 million followers) and “grapejuiceboys” (2.7 million followers) awoke to a surprise: sponsored content for Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg.
The posts (18 so far) are similarly formatted, and feature Mike Bloomberg DM-ing meme accounts to request they post a meme that will “make [him] look cool” for upcoming Democratic primaries. Some recent polls show Bloomberg leading primary candidates in first place, while others place him in fourth, just after “not sure.” His surge in popularity comes soon after spending $350 million on advertisements.
In a story for the New York Times, Taylor Lorenz reported the ads are the product of Bloomberg’s partnership with Meme 2020, a new campaign publicity company helmed by Mick Purzycki, who is also the chief executive of advertising giant Jerry Media. Jerry Media is also known for having done publicity for the ill-fated Fyre Festival. Meme 2020 has also enlisted George Resch, founder of the tank.sinatra meme account, to provide outreach to other meme accounts.
A number of other influencers were quick to praise the ads. On FuckJerry’s spon post, Chris Burkard, a travel influencer with 3.5 million followers, commented “Best advert ever,” according to the Times.
Others disagreed. In an Instagram comment, embattled influencer The Fat Jewish said that he’d been asked to do Bloomberg spon, and declined, explaining, “Mike Bloomberg is a colossal shitbag.”
According to the Times, meme accounts thus far enlisted by 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. All together, the group has more than 60 million followers.
It’s unclear how much the largest Instagram influencers were paid for Bloomberg spon-con, but last week The Daily Beast reported that “micro-influencers,” or those with merely 1,000 to 100,000 followers, were being offered $150 by the campaign.