The 46th US President, Joe Biden, launched his re-election campaign on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, in a three-minute video that he shared on his Twitter account with the message, “Let’s finish the job.” While the campaign itself made headlines, one merchandise item, in particular, went viral.
His campaign website started selling official merchandise which included Dark Brandon-themed t-shirts to raise money. The $32 clothing item shows an image of Biden with red laser eyes between the numbers “2024,” while the website states:
“Best worn while vanquishing malarkey.”
Additionally, a Dark Roast Mug which features a similar theme is also being sold for $22.
While the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon,” or “Dark Brandon” is not new and is heard frequently at the president’s rallies and parades, it is a reclaimed term that was once used to poke fun at and mock Joe Biden.
Netizens were impressed with Biden’s 2024 campaign merchandise, which added a positive spin on a once-negative term.
How did the term “Dark Brandon” come to be associated with Joe Biden?
In November 2020, just a week after Biden won the election, a Chinese illustrator, Yang Quan, shared several illustrations depicting the president as evil surrounded by fantasy-themed imagery. While Quan did not call the images “Dark Brandon,” these visuals would later be used by both Biden’s supporters and naysayers.
“Dark Brandon” is a play on the meme “Let’s go Brandon,” which was used by right-wingers to express their displeasure at Biden and his policies. In October 2021, an NCB sports reporter who was interviewing NASCAR racer Brandon Brown misheard racing fans chanting, “F**k Joe Biden,” as “Let’s go, Brandon.”
Republicans then started using the misheard phrase as a meme to mock Biden’s administration.
In March 2022, several memes with the hashtag #DarkMAGA (Make America Great Again) surfaced online, featuring a darker, unhinged version of Donald Trump running for re-election in 2024. The trend implied that Trump and other Republicans were “done being the nice guy.”
Simultaneously, the hashtag, #DarkBrandon, which combined the two separate memes, gained traction. The term was a foil to the DarkMAGA memes as well as a show of all the steps Biden took and the work he did.
Initially, Joe Biden’s team did not acknowledge the “Let’s go, Brandon” rhetoric and brushed off any comments relating to the phrase. However, in August 2022, several officials started using “Dark Brandon” to inform everyone of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act being passed by the Senate.
White House digital director Rob Flaherty was one of the first ones to use the term and shared an image of Joe Biden with laser eyes that started being associated with Dark Brandon.
“I love the humor”: Netizens react to Dark Brandon merchandise
As the news of Joe Biden‘s 2024 presidential campaign merchandise spread, internet users were quick to express their excitement. Many were impressed by the 47th president’s marketing team and others loved the humor, sharing tweets with the hashtag, #RidingWithBiden or #FinishTheJob to show their support. Some even asked if the t-shirts were available in black or gray color.
No other statement about the merchandise or campaign has been released by Joe Biden or his team as of yet.