The Virality of Bernie on a Chair

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There was no way we were going to get away with a full presidential inauguration without people online looking for the next best joke of the day.

Meme economists couldn’t have predicted what was yet to come and shake the internet on January 20th, 2021.

We saw millions of impressions surrounding the monochromatic outfits worn by the Biden family (primarily the granddaughters), Michelle Obama, and various speakers. The likes of Twitter watched the virtual event as if they were at a front row seat at a fashion show – noting every parka, suit, and dress that appeared at the Nation’s Capitol.

But, the lackadaisical fashion of Senator Bernie Sanders stole the show from head to toe in a plastic chair equipped with his one of a kind mittens.

With over 400,000 users relating to this with a ‘like’ (especially in the WFH environment), we all know we’ve felt like Bernie in this instance a time or two.

By noon time there had been over 50,000 tweets including the photo of Bernie Sanders sitting on the chair with his legs crossed looking like… well… he dressed for an occasion in the afternoon but felt obliged to stop by his friend Joe’s ‘thing before his afternoon plans’.

This is something important to note here – on Inauguration Day itself, a meme was trending higher than the actual event itself. Think about what that tells you about the consumer behavior of internet users.



Usually, the shelf life of a meme of this magnitude is about 6 hours and 100,000 unique posts before it becomes overplayed, misused, misinterpreted, and moves on to the meme graveyard. In this case, Bernie’s meme soared far beyond expected values. 12 hours after Bernie in the chair first went viral, it had over 400,000 unique tweets grossing an estimated 150,000,000 organic impressions.

There is no denying that Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair lacking enthusiasm towards just about anything quite literally ‘Broke The Internet’.

What Made This Meme So Viral?

Relatability. There’s no better way to put it. There has never been a photo online that portrays the emotional state of just about everyone in our country watching this event on our phones, laptops, or television screens.

We’re all tired. Tired of everything. Tired of the news, tired of the election drama, tired of the country taking sides, and tired of the time we spend imagining life before the pandemic.

So many of us are sitting there watching such a historic event thinking “finally – can we get over this and let’s move on and get back to work” and that’s what millions of people saw in Bernie’s eyes (and with hit mittens) as he sat in that chair by himself away from the everyone else at the inauguration.

The Ease of Replication

Most times when a meme of this magnitude circulates at such speed there are many barriers it must avoid in order to avoid being played out. One of those is lack of replication. But, luckily for Twitter aficionados and Photoshop enthusiasts – this was a piece of cake.

Bernie sitting became one of the most replicated memes in the span of 12 hours in Twitter history. Within an hour there were already .Zip files circulating with the perfect cutout .PNG of Bernie sitting to be used by anyone and everyone online.

We have even attached a perfect cutout .png of Bernie for any and every of your meme needs above. If you’re a brand – try to think of ways you can incorporate this into a funny Tweet or Instagram story before it’s too late and the meme loses true value.

But – what were some of the best replications? And how did brands hop on the bandwagon?

How Did Brands Hop on the Meme Wagon?

Seeing that this is one of the more fun and quick projects for any entry level graphic designer and meme enthusiast, Photoshop was quick to request users to send in their best version of the Bernie meme.

Chicago’s CTA took the quick opportunity to bring back winter memories of sitting on the train legs crossed in mittens waiting for your stop.

Everyone in the E-Commerce world felt this one from e-com sales giant Shopify

SmileDirectClub chimed in reminding people what it feels like to wait for a new appointment

And even WikiPedia jumped in with a quick ‘how-to’ tutorial

Bernie’s Oxymoronic Appearance

At the age of 79 years old, we can expect a man like Bernie Sanders to show up to something like the inauguration wearing just a jacket, pants, his everyday shoes and a pair of mittens. But, what we didn’t expect was to see him in so many places that he was in over the course of the day.

Online Bernie rode busses. Bernie was on album covers. Bernie had a cameo in The Sopranos. Bernie was in museums around the world. There was quite literally not a single place that Bernie didn’t fit perfect into.

What is so “share worthy” about this? We believe it’s the oxymoronic feeling that comes with seeing someone so official and renowned as Bernie Sanders (but, in mittens) in all places we grew up experiencing, normalizing, and adoring.

There’s a Place for Bernie in Everyone’s Life

We would never expect Bernie Sanders to be sitting so casually in so many places. But, we have to admit we get a crack out of seeing him everywhere.

The main reason this meme surpassed numbers like 100,000,000 impressions in just 48 hours was because nearly every person from every industry in every demographic could put Bernie in a familiar setting and share it with friends. For the first time in what seems to be ever – Bernie is a meme for everyone.

This meme is a perfect representation of unity, comedy, and relatability. We weren’t one bit surprised to see hundreds of brands jump on the wagon and show off their own Bernie moments to fans, supporters, and followers.

Though this is simply just a heartfelt meme with a simple template, think about the impact this had and how many organic eyes were drawn to something so simple in such a short amount of time. When you’re thinking of your next big campaign think back to the simplicity of Bernie sitting in a chair with his mittens on and think “what can we do to achieve Bernie level viral status?”

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