Story at a glance
- A photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) bundled up in a chair at the Inauguration quickly went viral.
- The image spawned memes and even artwork that have been used by businesses in advertisements.
- Other Bernie-inspired creations have raised thousands of dollars for charity.
The picture that spawned a thousand memes has been repurposed into an advertisement for IKEA, CAVA, SmileShop and dozens of other retailers — prompting the question: Is the Bernie mittens meme dead?
Ikea Greece (via agency Ogilvy Greece) got in on the Bernie action. pic.twitter.com/IpFa8fHYfM— David Griner (@griner) January 22, 2021
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The photograph of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) sitting in a folding chair with his mittened hands folded quickly went viral on Inauguration Day.
“You know in Vermont, we dress warm, we know something about the cold, and we’re not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today,” Sanders told CBS at the time.
But the cognitive dissonance of Sanders, a vocal critic of capitalism, in an advertisement intended to generate business for profit didn’t escape many social media users.
It’s wild that major companies are using the Bernie meme in online advertisements and are likely not paying Bernie to use his likeness or the photographer/cinematographer for using their photo in their ads.— Andrew Visnovsky (@AndrewVisnovsky) January 22, 2021
Getting served ads for semi-expensive furniture w/ the Bernie meme. Please end this. pic.twitter.com/K4FQiRh8Ir— Nicole Goodkind (@NicoleGoodkind) January 22, 2021
The limited edition mittens were knitted out of repurposed wool sweaters and recycled materials by Jen Ellis, a resident of Sanders’s home state of Vermont, and were a hit on the campaign trail. After the photograph went viral, the lesbian elementary school teacher said she was all out, but knitted a few more for charity.
In an update, Ellis said the mittens had raised quite a bit of money for local charities, including a dog rescue organization and support group for queer youth. Meanwhile, Sanders's campaign store began selling a "Chairman Sanders Crewneck" (get it, because he's sitting on a chair?) for $45, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward Meals on Wheels Vermont. And a handmade crocheted doll also inspired by the photograph raised more than $40,000 for Meals on Wheels America after eBay matched the winning bid of $20,300.
We are BLOWN AWAY by the support for our Meals on Wheels program by @SenSanders and so many folks local and across the country.— Age Well (@AgeWellVT) January 23, 2021
The sweatshirt may be sold out but you can still support Meals on Wheels: https://t.co/W8uaJXcekh https://t.co/1nEbwsAHOf
“Not only are we having fun but what we are doing here in Vermont is we’re going to be selling around the country sweatshirts and T-shirts, and all of the money that’s going to be raised — which I expect will be a couple of million dollars — will be going to programs like ‘Meals on Wheels,’ that feed low-income senior citizens,” Sanders told CNN. “So, it turns out actually to be a good thing, and not only a fun thing.”
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