Mike Bloomberg, the New York billionaire with a US$13,000 bath, is running for the Democratic primaries nomination. Whoever wins the contest will compete with Trump in the November general election.
Though he’s not among the frontrunners, the media mogul is intending to catch up by spending up to US$2 billion of his own money.
Bloomberg, who owns the media company that shares his name, is worth more than US$60bn. He’s already spent over US$350 million on TV, radio and digital advertising this campaign — about 10 times more than the poll-leader, Bernie Sanders.
This week, the 77-year-old turned to the most ‘spontaneous’ of all art forms: memes.
Almost overnight, #ad Bloomberg-approved memes swept Instagram, posted on well-known meme pages like Shitheadsteve, Sonny5sideup, Four Twenty, kalesalad, Tank.Sinatra, the funnyintrovert, and the grapejuiceboys.
Collectively, the accounts that posted the Bloomberg memes have over 60 million followers.
The campaign consists of mock screenshots of the media mogul sliding into the DMs and plying memefluencers with exuberant rewards.
How it works
The creative agency behind Bloomberg’s meme strategy happens to be the same one that promoted the botched 2017 Fyre Festival: Jerry Media.
According to Anthony S
There’s also an Australian influencer marketing company creating content for the Bloomberg campaign
The company delivering memes to the Bloomberg campaign is Australian: TRIBE is a “branded content marketplace” that connects social-media influencers with the brands that want to advertise to their followers. Its platform has about 70,000 aspiring influencers.
Last week, TRIBE posted an ad for content: the Bloomberg campaign would pay US$150 (minus TRIBE’s 30 per cent fee) to freelance content-makers for each original meme it accepted.
The ad describes the aspiring president as “a middle-class kid who worked his way through college” and asks influencers to “Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better, state why YOU think he’s a great candidate.”
TRIBE CEO Anthony Svirskis was not available for an interview.
In a LinkedIn article about the campaign, he suggests the Bloomberg campaign outsourced its meme creation as this type of content is “not easy to achieve or replicate, and in general doesn’t fit the mould of digital ad strategy in politics.”
In other words, the campaign wanted ‘authentic-seeming’ memes. And it was willing to pay.
Mr Svirskis writes that TRIBE’s army of influencers could create memes “faster and cheaper” than a creative agency or a single freelancer.
He adds that influencers seemed more willing to create memes for the moderate Democrat than other candidates, as he is more progressive.
Bloomberg, whose “stop and frisk” policing tactic during his terms as New York mayor has been attacked as racist, is one of the least progressive Democratic candidates.
Mr Svirskis doesn’t specify which other candidates he means.
“TRIBE continues to field interest from politicians, and has run small tests in the past, but they yielded less than usual interest from the … influencers and creators on our network,” he writes.
But will it alienate followers?
Though supporters say Bloomberg “won influencer marketing”, the memes could backfire, according to Dr Andrew Hughes, a lecturer in marketing at ANU.
“The fact that people are noticing it says it’s going to work because now people are aware that these messages and these memes are part of his campaign,” he told Hack.
“So the whole objective of the campaign is washed away
To some extent this is reflected in sharp comments on the meme pages.
Several of the top comments on one paid-for Bloomberg meme post attacked the candidate and expressed support for his rivals.
“This is not a good look for you,” one of the most-liked comments reads.
Another reads: “Still voting for Bernie.”
That post also had significantly fewer likes than the page’s average, and the ratio of comments to likes was much higher: a bad sign, Dr Hughes says.
“If there’s more comments on a message that means the message hasn’t worked,” he said.
The real test will come on March 3, known as Super Tuesday, when many states will be voting for the presidential nominees. The most recent national poll put Bloomberg behind Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic race.