Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking his presidential campaign to Instagram, and it's getting weird.
This week, some of the largest meme accounts on the social media site began posting Michael Bloomberg content, many of which are poking fun at an out-of-touch politicain who’s requesting their help with memes via DM and is willing to pay huge amounts of money for it.
"Hello Jerry. My granddaughter showed me this account. Your memes are very humorous," Bloomberg says in one such post by the account @fuckjerry, which has nearly 15 million followers. "Can you post a meme that lets everyone know I'm the cool candidate?"
The Bloomberg campaign is working with a new company called “Meme 2020,” which is headed up by Jerry Media (@fuckjerry’s parent company) chief executive Mick Purzycki, according to the New York Times. Taken altogether, Meme 2020 is working with roughly 20 accounts with a combined 60 million-plus followers, such as @grapejuiceboys, @tank.sinatra, and @MrsDowJones.
“Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world,” Bloomberg spokesperson Sabrina Singh told CNBC. “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.”
FEC filings don’t show any disbursements being made to Meme 2020 as of yet, although the deadline for campaigns to file their reports for January is next week. Since entering the race last November, Bloomberg — who has a net worth of $62 billion, according to Forbes — has pumped over $344 million into advertising, including $282 million on television and $57 million on Facebook and Google, according to Advertising Analytics.
Last week alone, Bloomberg spent nearly $13 million on Facebook ads, according to Advertising Analytics — over five times as much as President Donald Trump and nearly 13 times as much as Democratic front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders.
This isn’t the Bloomberg campaign’s first foray into the world of social media influencers. Earlier this month, the Daily Beast reported that the Bloomberg campaign had begun a campaign on the “influencer marketing platform” Tribe to pay social media “micro-influencers” (those with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers) a $150 flat fee for content “that tells us why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected.”
The response, at least to the @grapejuiceboys ad, was largely negative. User @snackpack_thief responded: “Do the honorable thing and unfollow this page. They don't deserve us.”
@caldwelljake was more blunt: “Take this down chief.”
Cover: Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to a crowd at Footnote cafe in WInston Salem, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. This is the first day of early voting in North Carolina. (Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)