President Biden has a meme strategy, and it relies on Dark Brandon


President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has finally settled down Tic Tac.

Despite controversy in Congress Thanks to its application, TikTok is an essential tool for presidential candidates to reach young voters, experts say.

“I wasn’t surprised at all to see that the campaign launched a TikTok account, because it really would have been such a waste to go through this cycle, and a wasted opportunity, not to be on that platform,” said Annie Wu Henry. , digital communications strategist who has managed social media for several political campaigns.

“I inevitably assumed it was going to happen, it was just a matter of time,” she told TechCrunch. “Did I think it would be in the middle of the Super Bowl? No.”

In the midst of the big game, the new account posted its first TikTok, on which Biden himself jokes about an unfounded right-wing conspiracy theory that he rigged the NFL (…because Taylor Swift, who supported Biden in 2020 , is dating Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and cameramen often show her in the crowd).

“Are you sneakily plotting to rig the season so the Chiefs can make the Super Bowl, or are the Chiefs just a good football team? an off-screen staffer asks Biden during his TikTok debut.

“I’d get in trouble if I told you,” Biden responds, and an image of the “Dark Brandon” meme appears on the screen.

The TikTok mocks several right-wing conspiracy theories simultaneously. Aside from the Super Bowl rigging joke, Biden’s campaign relied heavily on the Dark Brandon meme, which is an outgrowth of Donald Trump supporters.Dark YOURSELF” get oriented. The idea of ​​“Dark MAGA” comes from widely demystified conspiracy theory that Biden stole the 2020 election from Trump – they imagine an angry, unhinged Trump seeking revenge as he runs for president again in 2024. Visually, the vaporwave-style memes depict Trump with glowing red eyes, and sometimes they show Trump Tower as a dark, black fortress.

Dark Brandon borrows from this aesthetic and combines it with another joke among Trump supporters: the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant. This meme originated when a broadcaster confused chants of “F— Joe Biden” with “Let’s Go Brandon,” and now Trump supporters are using the phrase as shorthand to express their disgust for the current president. Trump supporters also used the incident to fuel their baseless allegations on government control of the media, alleging that NBC deliberately misinterpreted the chant to cover up criticism of Biden.

The Dark Brandon meme reward — which depicts Biden with glowing red eyes, struggling to fix the economy or something — requires so much background knowledge that it’s surprising Biden’s campaign got so into it strongly inclined. But in some ways it seems to work. When Biden announced his re-election campaign in April, his team began sale official merch of Dark Brandon, which represented 54% of the store’s total turnover from August.

Although Dark Brandon comes from memes that denigrate the president, Biden’s communications team appears to be re-appropriating the aesthetic to portray the president in a better light.

“When we see Joe Biden fighting on behalf of the American people – really, truly fighting, not just defending them – this is the most energetic and representative version of Joe Biden,” said Communications Director Marianna Pecora of Generation Z. advocacy group The voters of tomorrow. “I think the character of Dark Brandon kind of embodies that.”

Memes can be a useful tool for connecting with voters online, but when timed poorly, efforts to be trendy can backfire. Biden’s campaign has not yet been released another Dark Brandon meme on X after the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, saying the game went “exactly how we prepared for it.” But Biden’s team posted the meme around the same time the Israeli military raided the city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians fled under Israeli orders. Young voters in particular were critical of Biden’s continued support for the Israeli military, which fueled more anger over the poor timing of the meme.

“The campaign and administration operate separately, so I can say with almost complete certainty that [the timing] It was an unfortunate coincidence,” Pecora told TechCrunch.

But some voters may not be willing to give politicians that benefit of the doubt.

“I think we can and should infuse relevant, trendy and fun moments into the way we communicate, especially on digital platforms,” Henry told TechCrunch. “But while we do this, we must continue to be strategic, intentional and thoughtful, even if it’s a meme.”


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