It’s been an interesting journey for Nesconset resident George Resch, who used to sell fencing in Centereach but more recently has become the vanguard for an innovative Michael Bloomberg ad campaign.
That’s because Resch is now a full-time influencer with 2.3 million followers on his “Tank.Sinatra” Instagram page, a collection of visual jokes about pop culture from coronavirus to Brad Pitt. But this week, Resch turned from the Oscars to paid advertisements for the former mayor’s presidential campaign, in the form of memes.
The gimmick of the posts is that they are fake conversations between Resch and Bloomberg, in which Bloomberg is asking Resch to “make me seem ‘cool’ for the upcoming democratic primary.”
Resch has run paid content for Comedy Central and dating app Hinge, but this is the first time he got into political ads.
Resch is one of a cohort of meme-makers contracted by Team Bloomberg to insert presidential politics into Instagram users’ daily feed, less obtrusively than with a traditional campaign ad.
The 39-year-old says his posts aren’t endorsements of Bloomberg. A registered Democrat who considers himself an independent, Resch says he's not sure who he’d vote for this year.
Instead, he says the ads are an effort to raise the visibility of a candidate.
“We're entering a period of time that's unprecedented in so many different ways," he tells The Point, noting that the president and his 72.4 million Twitter followers “is in and of himself a media giant.”
"It cannot be that lopsided for any other candidate to try to get attention," he says.
Asked whether he would do similar paid posts for other candidates, Resch said, “I would think about it.”
They would have to be willing to let the satire lead. Bloomberg was willing to be the “butt of the joke,” he says.
He wouldn’t say how much Bloomberg paid for the ads, but says it's in line with what he's making for other paid content.
On the Bloomberg end, it’s just one part of the billionaire’s airwave and social media ad assault, an effort to “reach people where they are,” says campaign spokeswoman Sabrina Singh in a statement.
The candidate has put out other jokey social media content before, like Facebook ads asking who spends more time tweeting, superstars like Rihanna or President Donald Trump?
Can the ad blitz make the 77-year-old suit seem a little hip? Consider the persona Trump has drawn with his social media pulpit, or the enduring and positive picture painted by memes of a grumpy but straightshooting Bernie Sanders.
Resch says he doesn’t know enough to have a full opinion of Bloomberg, but knows the former mayor’s catching heat for the policing tactic stop-and-frisk, and that New York City “was doing really well for a while there” though it seems to him that things have slipped.
He says he’s looking to see which candidate is consistent and authentic and can improve the lives of the American people: “I’m still trying to figure it out just like everybody else."
Mark Chiusano is a member of Newsday's editorial board.