Editorial: Bloomberg’s big bucks

Despite PR investment, Bloomberg’s past bites back

Editorial Board

Former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has spent more than 230 million dollars simply on digital and television ads alone. For him, this amount is as inconsequential as pocket change. It is about 0.3% of his wealth.

Nonetheless, the Bloomberg campaign has been buying ads across platforms, such as YouTube, Twitter and television news channels.

In late January 2020, the Bloomberg campaign started buying ads from social media influencers, such as meme Instagram accounts like @tank-sinatra, an account with over 2.3 million followers. One meme featured a fake chat between the account and the official Bloomberg campaign account.

“Mr. Tank,” one message read. “I’ve been waiting for my meme for so long that I learned how to make memes myself in photoshop.” 

That one meme alone garnered over 48,000 likes, with more accounts on the platform sharing the meme across the internet. 

This approach to social media is certainly a smart one. Young people and politically active folks are more likely to look for information online and will be more likely to see memes such as these; humor will only make such posts more popular. 

Ultimately, it brings more attention to the campaign.

But at the end of the race, the winner will not be determined on who bought the most ads, and any publicity is not necessarily good publicity in politics.

Thursday, Feb. 13 was a far cry from good publicity for Michael Bloomberg. 

Bloomberg was hammered with attacks from the whole debate stage in the Nevada Democratic debate, with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders being his main adversaries. 

Like many debates for most candidates, past choices can come back to be used as ammunition against them, and no amount of money can distract a live audience from that.

Sen. Warren cited Bloomberg’s misogynistic comments of calling women “horse-faced lesbians.” Minutes later, Sen. Sanders rebuked an economic system which allowed the billionaire to have “more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans”.

Further criticism has been drawn from Bloomberg’s infamous “stop and frisk” policy that negatively affected communities of color in New York. The policy allowed police officers to search pedestrians on the street with no probable cause. 

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, over 5 million police stops and interrogations have taken place since 2002, and communities of color are disproportionately targeted using these tactics.

Although Bloomberg has tried to buy his way into the election by pumping millions into PR and cultivating his national image, communities of color in New York still feel the effects of his policies.

Advertising and marketing may be an integral part of supporting a campaign, but that effort does not go far as long as opponents have reliable criticism. Michael Bloomberg may buy all the advertisements on television and the internet but, unless he can make legitimate attacks against him disappear, his campaign will not make it far.