Bernie Sanders Turned the Chair Meme Into a Branded Sweatshirt for Charity (and It's Already Sold Out)
Of all of the moments from President Joe Biden’s inauguration, who would’ve thought the most memorable would be Sen. Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair.
He wasn’t doing anything particularly interesting. Just sitting. Oh, he was wearing mittens, which people seemed particularly interested in.
The internet moves in mysterious ways, though, and before we knew it, there was a torrent of Bernie memes, placing the Vermont senator in various well-known locations, like album covers, movie scenes and even in the UFC octagon.
Not usually one for the spotlight, it was a little surprising to see Sen. Sanders embrace the meme status to make a new line of merchandise. But he at least did it for a good cause.
The official Bernie Sanders store launched the “Chairman Sanders” crewneck sweatshirt for $45, with all proceeds going to Meals on Wheels Vermont.
Bernie Sanders launches official sweatshirt sale of his iconic inauguration meme, with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. 👏
— Complex (@Complex) January 22, 2021
If the viral status of the meme can be any indication, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the sweatshirts are totally sold out. The site also has a disclaimer that, due to “overwhelming demand” for the sweatshirt, it will take about four to eight weeks for delivery.
This is just how the world works now. Memes become marketing opportunities that you have to capitalize on in an instant. If you can do it for a good cause, then that’s great.
But we see it in the sports world, the Wild West of social media, and in politics. When something goes even close to viral, turn it into merchandise and sell it quick while the hype is the highest.
In politics alone, this kind of thing was common during the lead-up to the 2020 election, such as when eventual-Vice President Kamala Harris used a quote from a debate answer for merchandise, or when the Biden-Harris Campaign had branded fly swatters ready for purchase just after the infamous fly incident. We've seen it used both to promote candidates and or to directly rebuke others, a tactic both parties have used frequently.
We knew memes and micro-moments are marketable. This wasn’t a secret. But, if we’re being honest, seeing Sanders do it takes it to a new level. This is a guy whose whole brand is no-nonsense. Seeing his team even acknowledge a meme, let alone market it, was a real “oh wow” moment.
Sanders spoke a little bit about it, saying he's having fun with it and using it to raise money for important foundations:
In a month or two, when the sweatshirts arrive, customers will post them excitedly on social media. By then, we’ll have all moved on to some new craze du jour, but Meals on Wheels Vermont will have gotten a nice boost.
At the end of the day, that’s really what matters here.
And, for the record, this was our favorite Bernie meme:
— Conversaciones de Altura (@convdealtura) January 20, 2021