Colorado Obamacare ads get the target audience right, but nothing else

roller derby

As Obamacare continues to flounder in the marketplace, achieving less than 3 percent of its enrollment objectives and attracting mainly high-cost insureds with pre-existing conditions, three Colorado nonprofits have united to save the day with a campaign of print and online ads targeted to healthy twentysomethings, National Review reported November 12.

One thing the campaign gets right is audience targeting. In order to avoid a financial death spiral, the government insurance program must persuade lots of healthy young adults (who aren’t still on their parents’ plan, thanks to the law) to overpay for medical insurance they’re statistically unlikely to need in order to subsidize claims from their richer, sicker elders. And that’s who the campaign does target.

But how they do it – that’s a whole different story.

When the three nonprofits –, and – sat down to put together the ad campaign, apparently nobody told them about plagiarism or copyright infringement. Their campaign – Got Insurance? – rips off the famous Got Milk? campaign, not only in wording, but even font and logotype.

Somebody may have told them about the hierarchy of sales points and the fact that benefits and end benefits are the most persuasive ones. But for Obamacare, there’s a problem with that: what medical-care-related benefits are important to people in the healthiest years of their lives, whose only real need for medical care, statistically, is what blogger Allahpundit calls “the unlikely-but-still-real possibility of a serious illness or car accident,” and who are suffering too much from the double whammy of five-digit college-loan debt and low-end or nonexistent jobs to pay high premiums, copays and deductibles?

Specifically, the ads say, Obamacare coverage will help:

  • if you’re a lonely twentysomething woman. The mere knowledge that Obamacare covers birth control pills you’d otherwise have to spend all of $10 a month for is enough to entice hot, studly, men to your bed. (Not just one, but two ads offer this “benefit.”)
  • if you keep crashing your bike.
  • if your girlfriend breaks your heart.
  • if you keep falling off mountainsides.
  • if you keep perching on top of beer kegs and falling off.
  • if you cut your finger while carving a jack o’lantern (something you wouldn’t be doing more than once a year).
  • if you fall out of your kayak while shooting the rapids.
  • if you need painkillers – lots of painkillers – after skating in the roller derby.
  • if you need a flu shot in order to go skiing.
  • if the fear of sports injury is making you play it safe in soccer or lacrosse.
  • if the stress of not having health insurance is souring your lesbian relationship.
  • if you fall victim to that major cause of bodily injury in America – sprained muscles from doing yoga.

Nobody’s making this up. See the ads in the slide show.

The whole campaign feels and reads like some aging Baby Boomer’s idea of what a young adults life is like, and it’s a very condescending one. And benefit-oriented or not, you don’t sell your  most important target audience by talking down to them.

Benefits aren’t benefits unless your audience believes they’re real ones.

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