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The Bernie Sanders Meme: Humor and Awareness at the Inauguration

During the Inauguration, a picture of Bernie Sanders sitting patiently waiting for the swearing in of Joe Biden took the internet by storm.  A brief search on Twitter would show the multitude of memes with Bernie in new locations.

What I loved about watching these memes on the internet is that the conversation went from “Where can we place Bernie” to the focus on the mittens themselves.

As it turns out, the mittens were a gift from an Essex VT schoolteacher,  Jen Ellis , who made the websites based on repurposed wool sweaters.  Learning more of the story, individuals went from looking at Sanders in a mocking tone, to becoming interested in the mittens themselves, as well as charitable causes around recycling.

In fact, the Bernie Sanders team decided to take the iconic picture and turn it into a 45 dollar sweater – and sell it out in 30 minutes.  All told, the sweater has raised over a million dollars for Vermont charities.

I thought this was a a great example of how to leverage meme, social media, and charities to great effect.


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