Students at the University of Maryland are familiar with the online trend of “Zaching”—photographing oneself with arms up and muscles flexed.
It’s a tribute to Zach Lederer, a Maryland basketball team manager who died of brain cancer in March. The meme has become so popular that there’s an entire Tumblr
dedicated to photos of people—including master flexer Hulk Hogan—“Zaching.”
Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee in Maryland’s gubernatorial race, was clearly not so familiar with it, nor was anyone on his staff. A photo of his opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, doing a “Zaching” pose made it into an attack ad which dubs Brown “the most incompetent man in Maryland,” a parody of Dos Equis’s “the most interesting man in the world” ads.
Here’s the ad. The photo is at the very end:
The Maryland Democratic Party called the use of the photo “a despicable ad politicizing the struggle of recently deceased cancer victim,” The Washington Post
The Hogan (Larry, not Hulk) campaign is pleading ignorance, saying they had no idea the pose was anything but hubris.
“All they saw was two guys flexing their muscles,” spokesman Adam Dubitsky said of the ad’s creators. “We didn’t get it.”
The photo was posted to Facebook in May
without any caption to contextualize it. Other times the campaign had posted the ad, there were captions tying it to Lederer.
Even so, the campaign is sticking by the ad, and won’t be swapping out the photo. Dubitsky said Brown and Democrats should be responding to the ad’s claims about spending and incompetence rather than the use of a photo.