The Brief: Michael Bloomberg's sponsored meme posts have been met with backlash from meme-makers who oppose his campaign.


Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg partnered with popular Instagram meme accounts to post memes supporting his campaign and portraying him as a cool, self-aware, in-the-know, digitally savvy candidate. In response to the spread of his campaign’s sponsored political memes, a variety of anti-Bloomberg parody memes have been appearing on social media. Many of these memes use the same format that the sponsored posts did: a screenshot of supposed DM’s between the account admin and Bloomberg himself.

While the official Bloomberg memes poked fun at his attempts to engage a social media savvy audience while also boosting his credibility as a memeable and electable candidate, these parody memes paint the candidate in a more negative light. These memes often reference Bloomberg’s expansion of Stop and Frisk during his tenure as New York City mayor, a policy that disproportionately targeted Black and Latinx communities.

Bloomberg parody memes further the confusion as to which memes were actually sponsored by the candidate. As the sponsored memes included some self-deprecating humor about Bloomberg’s lack of social media clout and some parody memes claim to be sponsored, close readings may be required to determine which posts the Bloomberg 2020 campaign actually backed.

In the wake of Bloomberg’s sponsored meme surge, Instagram updated its policy about sponsored posts, now requiring branded content of this nature to include a “Paid Partnership With” designation.

While these anti-Bloomberg memes typically express opposition towards his candidacy, sometimes endorsing other candidates, many memes also criticize the accounts who accepted money from Bloomberg in exchange for posting positive memes about him.

A Drake yes/no meme with statistics from Stop and Frisk:

An is this a pidgeon meme:

Although Bloomberg’s original sponsored memes and the resulting parodies emphasize may be cringey, his efforts to appeal to younger, digitally native voters indicates the influence that memes and social media can have in modern elections.