How the Biden campaign adapted its Instagram strategy

Without new photos of the candidate on the campaign trail, Former Vice President Biden’s ‘gram has shifted to a lot more social graphics and tweet screenshots. Also in this week’s issue:

  • How artists responded to Trump’s suggestion we fight coronavirus by injecting disinfectants

  • Is this fake Biden ad a work of meme art or misinformation?

  • How to make your own Bill Clinton record meme


How artists responded to Trump’s suggestion we fight coronavirus by injecting disinfectants

Credit: @viralartproject/@johnmckinleyart/@judebuffumpixels/Instagram

President Trump suggested injecting disinfectants to rid the body of the coronavirus during a briefing on Thursday, and the makers of products like Clorox and Lysol responded by telling customers to not consume or inject disinfectants. Political artists responded by adding bleach to their work, including (above, left to right) Isabel Sierra y Gómez de León, John McKinley, and Jude Buffum.

April 24, 2020

Edel Rodriguez was among the first artists to show Trump guzzling down bleach. His image, captioned “Kool-Aid,” was reposted by Snoop Dogg.

How the Biden campaign adapted its Instagram strategy

Social graphics from Biden’s Instagram account

Biden’s Instagram was once heavy with photos of the candidate on the campaign trail, but since he canceled rallies due to coronavirus beginning March 10, there’s been a noticeable change in his IG grid.

In the 50 days since Biden paused in-person campaigning, his Instagram account has posted more than double the tweet screenshots than it did in the preceding 50 days. And tweet screenshots, it turns out, can get a lot of engagement.

Biden’s tweet from Friday about not drinking bleach received more than 332,000 retweets and 1.6 million likes on Twitter, and more than 365,000 likes on Instagram. It was the best performing tweet on Twitter last week, and the best performing tweet of the campaign so far.

I can’t believe I have to say this, but please don’t drink bleach.
April 24, 2020

“We saw how the internet was responding and knew Vice President Biden had to weigh in quickly to, first and foremost, share a factual PSA-style statement while also subtly critiquing Trump for spreading dangerous misinformation,” a Biden campaign official told Yello in an email. “Vice President Biden tweeted what he and many other Americans were thinking in the moment. It was authentic and it resonated.”

The campaign said it is “exploring and doubling down on alternative forms of creative content, including more graphics, photos, and videos.” It is planning Instagram takeovers from supporters and endorsers as well as more “interactive” content, like a bingo card and an AR lens to try on branded merchandise and assets. The campaign also said it would be digging through the archives to post photos of Biden throughout his career.

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Is this fake Biden ad a work of meme art or misinformation?

Twitter recently took down the above fake Biden campaign ad that encouraged voters to support Biden for his heart and not his brain, telling the Verge the image violated the company’s Election Integrity Policy.

Artist Brad Troemel took credit for the image. (I was unable to independently verify whether Troemel was the original creator of this image because the tweet that was credited with spreading it on Twitter has been taken down by the company, so I can’t compare time stamps. That said, the Twitter account in question tweets a lot of animal videos and Troemel mostly posts political memes.)

Troemel has previously posted his support for Sen. Bernie Sanders and describes his posts as “weapons-grade liberal cringe” that mock centrist and establishment Democrats. He said in a video that though the ad is fake, “this is truly [Democrats’] message to you,” and complained about the image being treated as “fake news” as opposed to art.

When Troemel posted the image, however, he captioned it as if it were real: “they’re actually running these as advertisements 😩😩😩 this is a level of DNC self sabotage scientists only believed to be theoretical.” Online, many shared it as if it was real.

The image’s use of the campaign’s typeface, Brother 1816, along with the footer text stating it was paid for by the campaign, visually reinforced Troemel’s inaccurate claim it was real.

It’s one thing to make fake ads as art, it’s another to try to pass them off as authentic. What do you think? What should the line be between parody and misinformation when it comes to fake ads?

Netflix is releasing a film about Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” tour

Former first lady Michelle Obama announced on Monday that a “Becoming” film about her book tour will debut on Netflix on May 6 and will cover “my life and the experiences I had while touring.”

The film is being released as part of the development deal between Netflix and the Obama’s Higher Ground Productions. It was directed by Nadia Hallgren, who previously did cinematography for the 2016 CNN Films documentary “We Will Rise: Michelle Obama's Mission to Educate Girls Around the World” and was director of “After Maria,” a Netflix documentary about women from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The Defense Department officially released UFO videos

An unidentified object spotted by U.S. pilots in 2015

The Department of Defense released three declassified videos showing “unidentified aerial phenomena” Monday. The videos, one from 2004 and two from 2015, were previously leaked. The New York Times reported on the first video in a 2017 story about two Navy airmen who said they saw an object over the Pacific that “accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen” that was about 40 feet long and oval shaped. The Times reported on the two other videos in a 2019 story. You can view all three videos here.

“The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified,’” the department said in a statement. Wild.

How to make your own Bill Clinton record meme

You may have seen images of Bill Clinton with an unexpected record collection online in the past week. If you haven’t seen one that suits your musical tastes, you can make your own on the site Bill Clinton Swag. The site uses a doctored image of Clinton that was Photoshopped for a 1999 Onion article titled “Clinton Writes Fan Letter to Joan Jett,” according to Know Your Meme.

The 31 best Andrew Cuomo slides

ICYMI, I wrote about the slides that accompany New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus briefings. You can read the story here.