Bloomberg Partners With Meme Lords to Prove He’s Hip With the Kids

The 2020 candidate's campaign sponsored posts on several Instagram accounts

Two close-up photos of Michael Bloomberg with a green background behind a smartphone and another photo of Bloomberg with his finger on his lips in the middle
Michael Bloomberg's campaign has developed a "meme strategy." Photo Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Sources: Getty Images

Ever since a late November announcement that he’s running for president, Michael Bloomberg has been throwing thick wads of cash into his advertising campaign. And as his candidacy has shown so far, when you have a nearly bottomless budget, you can (literally) afford to get a little silly in your ad campaigns.

The billionaire has played coy with some of his spending so far, turning a viral moment about his inability to casually interact with a dog into a digital ad (turned TV ad) featuring dogs endorsing him, for example. Ahead of the Super Bowl, he also upped his search advertising so that when folks Googled key phrases like “Trump’s Super Bowl ad,” they were served an ad for Bloomberg’s.

His candidacy is unique in that he joined the race relatively late compared to his competitors, a fact he’s tried to overcome in ad spending. That strategy has now extended to a widespread—and unprecedented—meme campaign, featuring sponsored posts on Instagram accounts.

Bloomberg’s campaign partnered with Meme 2020, a group of high-profile meme accounts headed up by Jerry Media’s Mick Purzycki, and bought several posts on Instagram accounts with millions of followers each, according to The New York Times. The memes all follow the same format, featuring fake direct messages from Bloomberg’s account asking the meme makers to help him look “cool” for the Democratic primaries.

“Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world,” said Sabrina Singh, the campaign’s senior national spokesperson. “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.”

The meme strategy is a play to connect with the young folk and challenge President Donald Trump’s strong social media presence. Poll numbers show he’s lagging with young voters, polling at just 7% among Gen Z and 10% among millennials, according to Morning Consult.

The former mayor of New York and Democratic presidential hopeful has spent hundreds of millions of dollars so far this election cycle, banking on an unprecedented advertising strategy that has the billionaire candidate investing in social, search and linear TV advertising at an unprecedented pace for a U.S. presidential race.

Since the (rather messy) Iowa caucuses kicked off the primary season, Bloomberg has been climbing in popularity, most recently overtaking Elizabeth Warren behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden in several national polls. The surge suggests that so far, his ad-forward strategy seems to be working. He’s also caught Trump’s attention, earning himself some personalized shoutouts on the president’s Twitter account this morning.

Here are some more Instagram posts from the Bloomberg campaign’s partnership.
@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.