President Joe Biden's 2024 reelection campaign is flooding Milwaukee — and FoxNews.com — with a pro-choice message from the president's satirical alter-ego
"Dark Brandon," President Joe Biden's satirical alter-ego, is making a bold appearance on the day of the first 2024 Republican debate — not only on billboards in Milwaukee, where eight GOP candidates are set to take the stage on Wednesday evening, but in digital ads plastering the homepage of FoxNews.com.
From midnight on Wednesday until 11:59 p.m., the internet meme-turned-campaign tool is taking over Fox News' website with pro-choice ads touting Biden's mission to defend abortion rights, one year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
For Biden's 2024 reelection team, the unexpected ad campaign — not only reclaiming an antagonistic character, but doing so on a conservative news site — was a no-brainer.
Rob Flaherty, deputy campaign manager for Biden's 2024 campaign and former director of digital strategy in Biden's White House, tells PEOPLE that Fox News' website is prime real estate for a campaign ad since the network is hosting Wednesday's debate. And, perhaps more importantly, "it's a surprising place for the president to show up."
"I think it fits both the president's ethos of going everywhere and not writing off any voters," Flaherty says. "It also speaks to the sort of strided, swaggy Dark Brandon personality of, 'Yeah, we're going to go on Fox News and talk about protecting and restoring Roe.'"
The new Dark Brandon campaign doesn't only touch on abortion rights, though that's the one that was selected to appear on Fox News. Three other versions of the ad will pop up on billboards in Milwaukee Wednesday, each hitting on an issue that Americans overwhelmingly support, but the Republican Party opposes.
One ad reads, "Get on board, folks. We're lowering prescription drug costs." Another reads, "Social Security cuts? Try me." And the final reads, "Tax cuts for yacht owners? Good luck with that, champ."
"These are places where we see an effective contrast between ... the president and the entirety of the Republican field," Flaherty says of the issues featured in the ads.
White House officials first embraced Dark Brandon around this time last year, when staffers like Flaherty and deputy press secretary Andrew Bates posted images of the cartoonized president on Twitter, now known as X.
At the time, Biden was riding an administration high after steering major pieces of legislation through Congress, and his tone toward Republicans was getting feistier. A couple of buzzy moments — like when the official White House Twitter account called out GOP lawmakers who opposed student loan forgiveness — fueled the rise of the Dark Brandon meme among Biden-supporting social media users.
"Our supporters started using [Dark Brandon] as a way to talk about how the president was kicking ass," Flaherty tells PEOPLE. "The underlying message is exactly what we want — the implication that Joe Biden is brutally effective at accomplishing things for the American people and getting obstacles out of his way, which is one of the core components of the campaign."
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Dark Brandon has already been fashioned onto Biden 2024 merchandise, and products featuring the design now account for 44% of the campaign store's orders and 54% of its revenue, according to a campaign official.
"Dark Brandon has been a really resonant thing with our grassroots supporters," Flaherty says, noting that it's a "fun" and "joyous" representation of the president's mission.
But as for whether Dark Brandon will make any other surprise appearances before the 2024 election, Flaherty stays mum: "Only Dark Brandon knows where he'll appear."
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