Two months ago, Los Angeles–based comedians Brad Evans and Nick Ciarelli posted a video to Twitter of the so-called “Moves Like Bloomberg” dance, which they staged with help from their audience during a live show at UCB to poke fun of a very cheesy (but real) video going around of Pete Buttigieg campaign supporters dancing, only this time supporting presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Brad and Nick’s video almost instantly went viral, thanks to a handful of big accounts on Twitter sharing it to their followers without realizing it was a comedy bit. It turns out that “Moves Like Bloomberg” was very prescient, because now, the Bloomberg campaign is handing out money to Instagram’s biggest meme accounts in an attempt to make Bloomberg memes go viral. Except this time, it’s not a joke.
It all started Wednesday night, when people on Twitter began to notice that a ton of huge Instagram meme accounts, mostly repost accounts — including @fuckjerry, @kalesalad, @grapejuiceboys, @adam.the.creator, @whitepeoplehumor, @gamersdoingthings, @fuckadvertisements, @shitheadsteve, @tank.sinatra, @trashcanpaul, @sonny5ideup, @mrsdowjones, and @neatdad — had posted sponsored ads by the Bloomberg campaign. While the posts were different, they all followed the same format of a fake DM interaction between “Bloomberg” and the account owner, where Bloomberg asks how much he can pay them to post a meme about him. It appears that all of the accounts captioned the posts by specifying they were paid for by Bloomberg and linked to Bloomberg’s Instagram account, and the accounts that participated, as well as numerous “influencers,” also commented under each other’s posts to amplify engagement.
According to the New York Times, the flood of Bloomberg memes last night was orchestrated by a new company called Meme 2020, which is led by Jerry Media (the company behind @fuckjerry) exec Mick Purzycki and backed up by a network of huge accounts and influencers like @grapejuiceboys (2.7 million followers), @tank.sinatra (2.3 million followers), and @fuckjerry (14.9 million followers), with Jerry Media creative director Evan Reeves also involved in conceiving the Bloomberg meme push as head of creative. The news from NYT follows a Daily Beast report from late last week, which revealed that Bloomberg’s campaign — which already garnered some attention last month for its “How Do You Do Fellow Kids?”–style tweets during the Democratic debate — was using advertising money to, as the Daily Beast put it, pay “influencers to make it seem cool.” Influencers with anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 followers were offered a flat $150 rate to post content in support of Bloomberg, but considering much bigger accounts with tens of millions of followers like @fuckjerry earned as much as $30,000 per sponsored post back in 2016, it’s likely that this new crop of accounts earned significantly more than $150.
While the New York Times report didn’t reveal any details on that front, Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Sabrina Singh confirmed that the memes were paid for by the campaign in a statement to the NYT, saying, “Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world. 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 sudden influx of Bloomberg memes has received its fair share of dunking, both in the comments of the sponsored posts and on Twitter.
The most surprising critic of the Bloomberg meme push? Josh Ostrovsky, a.k.a. @thefatjewish on Instagram, who in 2015 was called out by comedians on Twitter for posting jokes without credit or permission for years and, along with @fuckjerry, helped create an Instagram meme economy where content reposted without permission, credit, or payment has now become the norm and leads to big ad deals for meme accounts like the Bloomberg memes. Ostrovsky left several comments under @tank.sinatra’s Bloomberg ad, in which he claimed he got an offer from the campaign that he turned down.
“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 shitbag. From the subjugation of minorities through stop and frisk policies to his hardline anti-marijuana stance, dude is a total hoe,” Ostrovsky wrote in one of his comments. “I’d encourage any meme account owner to take schmoney from basically any brand … because brands are trash and deserve to have their money taken, but this dystopian black mirror simulation is too much for me I now need to be shot into the fucking sun k bye.”
What does it say that posting sponcon for the Bloomberg campaign is too shameless even for @thefatjewish?