November 15, 2013

About those "got insurance?" ads from Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education.

I thought these were a spoof at first, but they're not. I didn't think about what was going on until I was listening the podcast of Rush Limbaugh's Wednesday show, and then it dawned on me, not because I looked at it the way Rush did, but something about his take made me see the light.

So here's what Rush said:
These ads are promoting this irresponsible behavior and assuring you that you'll be okay if you engage in this irresponsible behavior if you get insurance.  The ads are designed to convince young people, Millennials, to go sign up for Obamacare....
Rush focuses on this:


He says:
That ad is promoting promiscuity.  That ad is associating promiscuity with Obamacare.  Obamacare will get you your birth control pill so you can get him and you can get her.  And you can get each other between the covers. You don't have to worry about anything because Obamacare's got you covered because you got insurance....
Describing some other ads:
The implication here is that Millennials can be bought by promising them free access to all of this irresponsible behavior -- irresponsible, unserious behavior.

That all they care about, the only thing young people care about -- and maybe this is true since they can't find work. That all they care about is drinking shots, guzzling out of kegs, partying, hooking up, drinking wine at the gym, taking risks, and being irresponsible in general.  But then they're assuming that these same irresponsible, sybaritic, hedonistic worthless, irresponsible kids are nevertheless responsible enough to seek out insurance at the Obamacare exchange. 
No, that's not what I see here at all. Of course, Rush is interested in going back to the Sandra Fluke incident. But my take on this is that what's needed to make the insurance market work is for a lot young, healthy people to sign up for these plans that cover things older/sicker people use. But young, healthy people are shocked at the idea of paying over $500 a month when they have few medical expenses and they've been counting on things remaining the same for a while — the old young-people-think-they're-invincible phenomenon. The ad campaign is the result of brainstorming: What are all the bad things that might happen to a young healthy person?

Most of the ads show imminent accidents. Like this:



The message isn't: Get insurance so you can do risky things. It's: You think you're young and carefree but you really do face risks that could be expensive. The unspoken reality is: We want you in the system because you're the kind of person who's likely to pay more in than you take out. Now, the birth control part is a bit different, because that's a routine expense, but come on. Birth control pills cost something like $20 a month, and your insurance will be $500+ a month. You're not going to get back what you pay in through getting birth control pills free. That's just a cheap come-on.

Young, healthy people are the marks in this game. And maybe these ads help them feel hip and cool, not like those old fogeys who will disapprove of these ads. Well, the oldies are the ones who need your money. Please don't notice!

54 comments:

m stone said...

One of the first rules of marketing is to associate an idea with a target audience---in this case insurance and hip youth. The ad succeeds on that merit.

Young people just don't think of insurance as cool---never did---and this ad---in it's sexually provocative way---encourages that thinking.

Then again, it is demeaning to some young focused people on its face value. The promiscuity card is definitely played.

Birches said...

Sorry, you're both wrong.

No young person is going to see those ads and feel prompted to buy protection for their already "irresponsible" behavior, nor are they going to be persuaded to live more irresponsibly because they have insurance.

I've thought a lot about what the ads were trying to do. Frankly, the models, the graphics, the slogans are all amateur. I've decided it was intended that way (I hope for the sake of ad execs these days). It was supposed to be super awful to get people talking and to get stuck in the collective conscious. Kind of like the Quizno's hamsters. The problem with that POV is that Planned Parenthood and other hardcore leftists are taking the ads (and criticisms of them) seriously. So then I'm not sure.

Can't we all see they're terrible, but (maybe) they're supposed to be?

Birches said...

One of the first rules of marketing is to associate an idea with a target audience---in this case insurance and hip youth. The ad succeeds on that merit.

The models are all the antithesis of hip youth. I don't know anyone under 30 who would want to identify themselves with such goofy looking people.

Sean Gleeson said...

And that poor girl with the birth-control pills and the cardboard cutout of Ryan Gosling? Obviously that one is to remind you that all ACA-compliant plans will have full mental health coverage, even for pre-existing disorders.

MayBee said...

Agree the ads just want to get buzz.
The people are all too unattractive to get young hip people to think it's the hip thing to do.

Plus, the cost benefit analysis is isn't there for birth control pills. You can go to PP, or the campus clinic to get the pill for a lot less than the cost of insurance on the exchanges.

The grammar is deplorable. What's with the comma after STDs?

Edward Lunny said...

They were foolish enough to vote ,twice, for him. The Obama folks think that the millenials will be that foolish again, still. I mean, come on we're dealing with people who can be described, without qualification, as ethically and morally bereft.

George Grady said...

One thing I'm not clear on is: Are companies allowed to offer insurance policies that don't meet all of Obamacare's requirements? That is, could you buy an insurance policy that meets your needs, as you see them, pay the fine for not having Obamacare-compliant insurance, and maybe pay less than you would for a compliant policy?

The Godfather said...

The young people who might be attracted by these ads are those who qualify for hefty subsidies. If the insurance is cheap enough out of pocket, you might just buy it for the free pills (or maybe next year forr the free MJ, who knows). Then when (or "if", in the Obama economy) you start to earn a real living, maybe you're in the insurance habit. Maybe that's the angle.

Birches said...

@ Sean Gleeson

+1

David said...

George, they are allowed to offer them and sell them. Now it's not legal to do so, but they no one can stop them in advance. Obama has told the insurers, more or less officially, that he will direct his administration not tp prosecute these violations.

Now that will work just fine as long as Obama keeps his work about not prosecuting. And Holder too. And as long as some clever third party does not find another way to impose liability for selling these "substandard" policies.

That sounds like something to rely on, doesn't it? After all the guy who thought it up is a lawyer. Former president of the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Super Smart.

What could go wrong with anything he thinks up?

MadisonMan said...

The thing that struck me with those ads is the implicit assumption that the woman is going to take care of all the birth control.

It ain't necessarily so, baby-daddy in waiting.

I concluded that the ads were written by men.

John Constantius said...

I think these ads are trying to make the best of a bad situation. If Obamacare is going to work, a lot of young people are going to have to buy health insurance, in many cases quite expensive health insurance, that they neither want nor particularly need.

So how do you get young people to do so instead of paying the relatively nominal penalty and/or without making them hate the Democrats for the rest of their lives? Hire a marketing firm and ask them to pitch some reasons why young people might want to get Obamacare health insurance.

And what did the firm come up with? Birth control and peace of mind if a young person hurts themselves doing something fun/stupid.

Will the campaign work? Of course not -- not even young people are this stupid. But the Obamacare supporters and their hired marketing company had to at least try. As abysmal as this campaign is, I honestly don't know how they could have come up with anything better.

Megaera said...

George Grady: AFAIK, the answer is NO. Insurance is a highly regulated business, and the terms of policies offered have to comply with state (and now federal) requirements. Note, for example, the Washington State Insurance Commissioner, who flatly stated no insurance company in HIS state was going to be re-offering any old non-compliant policies back to cancelled insureds. He was brown-nosing for the wonderfulness of ACA policies, of course, but at the same time he was absolutely legally correct. Try to sell a policy that isn't approved by your state commission and you'll lose your license to do business in that state. It's a big deal. Which is why all that garbage about "substandard" policies was just that -- Garbage. All those policies had regulatory approval, and every premium raise and policy change gets approved by some state bureaucrat before they see the light of day.

Ann Althouse said...

:Can't we all see they're terrible, but (maybe) they're supposed to be?"

Yeah. I think I was saying that. The ads are viral. We're talking about them, and they make young people (the target) feel hip (and not like marks).

Rusty said...

They're lame. According to my 21 year old daughter.
"What? Do they think we're stupid? Thats just lame."

rehajm said...

The medical events young people are most likely to encounter are better covered by event insurance- break a leg, get a check, or acquire a chronic illness, get paid until you enroll in traditional insurance. Even with ACA and the penalties in place, these types of emergency care polices would be quite inexpensive for the age group, and a compelling alternative to enrolling in Obamacare.

MayBee said...

No, they don't make young people feel hip. That's the problem with the analysis. They are an old person's vision of what young people might like.

That aside, what was the last smart political ad geared toward wome? The lady parts bit? Julia? Lena Dunham?

They treat women like hormonal imbeciles.

Craig Howard said...

They're still extremely vulgar.

And they show how young people are perceived these days by so-called Progressives. The purpose, of course, is not to get these young-skulls-full-of-mush to protect themselves against accidents, it's to convince them to become Obamacare's milk-cows.

TML said...

As a 27-year advertising professional (creative director), I can tell you these are about the least hip, clumsiest, shittiest, hacky, ridiculous ads I've ever seen. Plus they're direct rip-offs of Goodby's "Got Milk?" ads. Just terrible in every way.

gcarroll said...

wow - if this were a cigarette ad like the old camel thing, or a beer ad, or even a McDonald's ad, wouldn't the world of conscience which we call the liberals be SCREAMING about targeting the uts? I am so sick of all this nonsense and YES! I am an oldie who I guess, now, because of this man in the big chair needs these poor kids to pony up and help me if I become ill. Never used to be this way. God help us all.

Mountain Maven said...

How come so many ad's portray people as stupid? Dumb men are a staple of TV ad's as well as TV programming. Now they are branching out into foolish women .e.g the loose one in the ad, not to mention Lena Dunham. I like the Viagra ads, those guys have some sack.

kimsch said...

Can the Dairy Board sue them for trademark infringement?

Skeptical Voter said...

This is what you get when you pay for Sandra Fluke's birth control pills. It would help if you also paid for some shaving cream for the young "stud" that Little Susie is so hot for.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

George Grady,

So far as I have been able to find out today, it's that the non-PPACA-compliant plans are actually illegal to sell, not merely that they don't count as "insurance" for tax/penalty purposes. Obama has promised that this part of the law, in common with several other other bits of the PPACA, won't be enforced this year. Next year, maybe. I suppose that will depend on what the midterm election situation looks like in, oh, September '14 or so.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

kimsch,

Can the Dairy Board sue them for trademark infringement?

I wondered that myself. I think probably not, if only because if there were to have been a suit, it would've happened a long time ago. The combination of "got _____?" and that font has been used all over the place. I once met a fellow-violist in a black T-shirt with a white "got viola?" (in the same font, natch) on it; IIRC she got it from CafePress.

Henry said...

These are a cry for help. For parody I mean. I really want the footnote to read:

*My health insurance covers Acyclovir too!

Clyde said...

I believe the term for the young people in these ads is "Judas goats." Except, of course, that unlike Judas goats who lead other animals to slaughter, they will not be spared the financial suffering of Obamacare.

EMD said...

Everyone relax. I'm sure these are just a Fluke.

wildswan said...

There's a blog called "xkcd" which I would use if I were trying to appeal to millenials - I mean I would use the way it "thinks" and the situations it imagines and its stick graphics. It's done by one of them (the millennials) and nothing in it is anything I would think of if left to myself. I take this difference as a sign that xkcd is part of the sensibility of a new generation. Something I've long suspected about the millennials is that they are not my generation and not even a caricature or a deteriorated image of the college students of my generation.

Sorun said...

All I see is white people. Excluding minorities from your advertising is illegal.

How about a group of thugs posing menacingly with their guns and wads of cash. Yo yo yo. They need health insurance too.

Joe said...

Both Rush and/or you may be right about the intentions of those who made the ads, but they are total fails. Even if young people my kids' age thought these weren't complete lame ads, they aren't going to change their behavior on some hidden message within.

Joe said...

I actually saw the first TV Obamacare ad the other day. It basically said that if you get Obamacare, you'll never have to worry about your healthcare again; that by getting Obamacare, you can get that minor medical thing taken care of that you postponed. Nevermind that between the deductible and premiums, your average family would have to rack up $20,000 of minor medical expenses to make it worthwhile.

At the same time, they may have a point. Once you start paying $1200 a month in premiums, you're going to get your money's worth.

jr565 said...

They should have an ad with a guy about to take heroin, or even better Krokodil. Or crack.

jr565 said...

Do you got insurance? must they be so hip they can't be grammatically corrects.
No, I ain't gots health insurance, yo!

fivewheels said...

doyougotinsurance.com. That's the site. It's real.

Heartiste quote: "doyougotinsurance.com? what’s next? muhfugginfreeshit.com?"

Yeah. We're doomed.

alan markus said...

@Rusty:
They're lame. According to my 21 year old daughter.
"What? Do they think we're stupid? Thats just lame."
Exactly what I was thinking when I saw this(the *)

* The pill doesn't protect you from STDs, condoms and common sense do that

There should be a ** after that to the effect: Despite years of politically correct safe sex practices education, we know that if you are the low-information type to be motivated by this ad, we assume you are dumb as f**k and need this disclaimer posted



Michael said...

"doyougotinsurance.com"

Do you got?!! Who talks like that? Wanna-be-cool white teens trying to sound like rap stars?

At the margin the young, low-information, would-be cool voter is the key to the Obama coalition. I don't think it will help the President to let these people know what he really thinks of them.

Original Mike said...

Suuuuuuckers!!!!

Chef Mojo said...

Funny. When it came to getting advice on risky behavior and the wisdom of having health insurance at an early age, I had these two people called "Parents." Go figure...

This is not the government's job. They fuck it up every time.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

* The pill doesn't protect you from STDs, condoms and common sense do that

And if you are using a condom, as you damn well ought to be if you're picking up that OMG hot guy that you just met and know absolutely nothing about, it is probably not going to make much difference whether you are on The Pill or not.

Allison said...

Birches,

The reminder of the Quizno's hamsters was terrific.

I saw those and never ever ever ate a Quizno's sandwich again, because the hamsters came across to me as
"decapitated rats with their heads glued back on" and I would never eat at a restaurant who associated food with decapitated rats.

And I must not have been alone, because Quizno's almost went bankrupt then.

PackerBronco said...

The ads went viral. They'll be talked about ... in the same way that New Coke was talked about.

Never underestimate the stupidity of your target audience, but never tell them that you think they're stupid.

William said...

Maybe it was ambush advertising. The point of the ad was not to get young people enrolled but to get Rush to say something stupid about birth control. It worked with Fluke.......Get a young, attractive woman whose name rhymes with fuck to appear before a Congressional committee and demand subsidized contraceptives. If Rush had refrained from making jokes, he would have probably stroked out, so it was win win.

rcommal said...
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rcommal said...
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Smilin' Jack said...

Amen to all previous bashers, but what cracked me up was "between the covers." WTF?

rcommal said...

Gak: I posted my comments on the wrong thread, and thus I deleted them. Sorry, folks.

Zach said...

What came across to me is that there is no real selling point that would appeal to young people, because Obamacare policies are a straight ripoff of the young. The benefits are very minor (birth control pills? Do people really pull out their insurance cards for that penny ante stuff?). The one with the waitresses tries to imply that subsidies are helping out with the cost, but for the most part, young people's premiums are going *up*.

Annie said...

The pill is $4 a month and condoms, free, at PP.

The pill is about $10 a month at Walmart.


Unknown said...

Because young people always identify with stupid people. That is what sells!

JoyD said...

Have you seen any new network comedies? They are on the same level as these ads. Apparently stupid works. Anything that goes straight to Facebook, Twitter etc without more thought than *click* really clicks with the kids. I wonder why they didn't have a massive push like this BEFORE the rollout, creating a buzz like movie trailers do. Anyway, I know several young people who are NOT fools, who are employed part time or self-employed, and at this point they are NOT planning to sign up. They say they can't afford it. And, of course, they have that Invincibility thing going on.

John Woycheese said...

So, I've never understood the focus on the young and healthy. My understanding is that subsidies are available until you make 4x the poverty level. Maybe it's just me, but...
How many people just starting out are making more than that? Isn't the pool of young, healthy, rich people pretty small?
So who will actually be paying the freight?

Momma Red said...

Can't help but wonder who/what ad agency is really behind these, and who they're connected to in the Obama administration. Crap like this almost screams "financed by taxpayer dollars!" I highly doubt there's an actual client with skin in the game footing the bill.

J Lee said...

The message isn't: Get insurance so you can do risky things. It's: You think you're young and carefree but you really do face risks that could be expensive.

If that's the case, the ads are ineffective because they simply show impending actions, not the consequences.

Liberty Mutual has been running a series of ads that work backwards from the consequences of accidents to the point before they happen, in order to push the need for insurance. If the makers of the Colorado Obamacare ads wanted to get the message of consequences for reckless behavior across, they should have used before/after images in at least some of the ads. As they are now, they do reinforce the interpretation that Obamacare will allow you to do reckless behavior and not worry about the financial cost of the outcome.