Scent of Sanders? On a Political Super Bowl Sunday, Bernie Got the Wildest Ad of All

Introducing Bérnié: The People's Perfume

Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg will both be airing commercials during the Super Bowl on Sunday—with creative approaches that are pretty well worn. But for something completely different, check out the work below—promoting Bernie Sanders. 

It's a spoof fragrance campaign promoting Bérnié: The People's Perfume, a completely fake scent with the very real goal of helping to get Sanders elected in November. "Live the sweetness of democratic socialism with the new Eau de Toilette for not me us," says the copy on the web site. 

This spot debuted online earlier this week: 

And now, for Super Bowl Sunday, Muse can exclusively reveal the follow-up spot: 

The idea behind the campaign is to complicate the narrative of the white male Bernie Bro supporters, and to emphasize that people of color and women have consistently made up more of Bernie's base than men. "Which makes sense," the creators say, "because if you look at Bernie's policies and track record, it's clear that he is the best candidate for racial justice, women's equality, and LGBTQ+ rights." 

The project is not affiliated or endorsed by the Bernie campaign itself. 

Directed by Amber Schaefer, the project features a Los Angeles based cast of "Bernie Babes," including Demi Adejuyigbe, Paige Elkington, Matisse Andrews and Kate Hollowell. The music is an original composition by the Brooklyn based band Wet. 

We spoke with Schaefer to learn more about the project. 

Muse: Where did the idea came from, and why perfume parodies? 

Amber Schaefer: I should give some credit to this talented young woman, Nicole Ginelli, who is the genius behind the now iconic Bernie Barbie shirts. She brought together a group of female identifying Bernie supporters with diverse talents looking to do more for the campaign to create what we call the "Bernie Elite Meme Crew." Which started as a meme squad, but essentially now acts as a bi-coastal online organizer collective. It was on our first BEMC video chat in November that I pitched them the idea of making a perfume parody ad with a sincere pro Bernie message that complicats the—false!—Bernie Bro narrative. Being a part of something larger than myself propelled me to not just ask what I could do with my skill set for the campaign but follow through with it too. 

Where, when and how did you shoot the spots?

We shot in Malibu in early January. One of the funniest things about these films is their professionalism. Our incredible DP, Eli Born, shoots real perfume ads regularly—and it shows. Our production designer, Joshua Petey Peterson, is a longtime collaborator of mine and recently the art director for Baumbach's Marriage Story. Our producer, Samuel Rubin, is a social impact producer I met on Instagram over our shared love for Bernie, and our website designer, Kalli Mathios, is a librarian by day, activist by night, and part of the Bernie Elite Meme Crew. Truly, every single member or our crew and postproduction team are on the absolute top of their game. I urge you to check out our Vimeo page for the full credits. But amazingly, these films were made with an entirely volunteer crew and talent that support Bernie and—like me—yearned to do something more than just donate to the campaign. 

Who's the talent, and how did you get them involved? 

We were blessed with extraordinary Bernie Babe talent who were either friends or friends of friends. Our film premiering today for the Super Bowl has an original composition by the beloved band Wet. Matisse Andrews is a professional musician turned professional makeup artist turned professional model and has a face as beautiful as her singing voice. Demi Adejuyigbe is an amazing comedian, writer, actor and musician. I like to call him "one of the greatest minds of our times." Kate Hollowell is everything. She is a professional photographer, director, actress, dancer, musician and one of the funniest people I know. Paige Elkington is an actress, model, secret musician, truly inspiring activist, and really good at dressing up for Halloween.

You've said you want to reframe the narrative around Bernie's supporters. Can you explain how this work does that? 

The intention of the films is to complicate the—false!—white male Bernie Bro narrative plaguing Twitter and the media at large. And while misogyny can be found on all sides of the aisle, if you look at the numbers, Bernie is leading among people of color, and women have consistently made up more of Bernie's base than men. The People's Perfume aims to show Bernie's diverse support but in a comedic, playful way. 

Maybe our next series will aim to complicate a new false narrative that Bernie's supporters are all hot people in entertainment that live in L.A.! Maybe we'll do perfume ads with with teachers, Walmart and Amazon employees, veterans, Post Office workers and union organizers rolling around on the beach. Because that's his base, too.

What can humor accomplish in political advertising that more serious approaches can't? 

Comedy at its best lifts a veil and makes the invisible visible. While using the over-the-top tropes of perfume ads, we aimed to give a face to the many women and people of color whose support for Bernie Sanders has often been rendered invisible. 

Have you been in touch with the Bernie campaign? How do they feel about the work? 

We have not! But I know Bernie has a sense of humor, so I think he'd dig them.

Are you doing any sort of media buy in social to promote this? 

Today's spot is being released in reaction to Trump and Bloomberg's $11 million Super Bowl ads. We want to show that Bernie's campaign is grassroots and can't be bought. 

What do you hope the work accomplishes, in the end?

Bernard Sanders as our 46th president. :)

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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