The Biden campaign is looking to hire a veteran meme lord

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This is no joke: President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign needs someone to manage memes, according to a job listing. The “Partnership Manager, Content and Meme Pages” hire will “initiate and manage day-to-day operations to incorporate the internet’s top content and meme pages.” The job pays up to $85,000.

Yes, becoming a professional meme manager is absurd. But in this age, digital organizing is as valuable as IRL campaigning at the farmers market. If a candidate is trying to meet voters where they are, they need to be online, where going viral can mean connecting with millions of people. That’s why Biden’s campaign has a TikTok account, even though the president just signed a bill that could effectively ban the app.

Image Credit: Screenshot by TechCrunch

“I think the way we’re communicating, especially on digital platforms, should include relevant, trendy, and fun moments,” producer and digital communications strategist Annie Wu Henry told TechCrunch in February. “But we need to be strategic and intentional and conscious when we’re doing it, even if it’s a meme.”

Even before this appointment, the Biden campaign has been relying on memes to attract voters. The Dark Brandon meme, which stemmed from alt-right conspiracy theories about the president, has been so ubiquitous on Biden’s campaign accounts that it feels stale. But people are loving it: Last August, dark Brandon merch accounted for 54% of the campaign store’s total revenue, according to Axios.

Former President Donald Trump has also embraced memes as he campaigns for his return to the White House. When Trump’s mugshot went viral, his campaign immediately began selling T-shirts, mugs and beer koozies with the image, along with the words “Never give up.”

Biden is far from the first candidate to notice that what happens online can influence elections. For as long as social media has existed, it has been a valuable tool for political organizers, but the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital tactics in campaigns. When Ed Markey (D-MA) ran for reelection to the Senate in 2020, Gen Z posters across the country composed “The Markeyverse,” an organic online movement to ensure that a climate-friendly senator keeps his seat. Meanwhile, the anonymous online personality Organizer Memes has been hosting meme trainings for political organizations like the South Carolina Young Democrats. At these trainings, participants collaboratively create memes, discuss what makes a good meme, and learn how to use existing meme templates to react in real time to breaking political news.

Given the Biden administration’s ability to ban TikTok, young people may view the campaign as an effort to appeal to them through memes. But if nothing else, the adoption of social media is proof that a campaign is at least trying to engage the younger demographic.

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