“Got Insurance?”: Goofy Ads, Lamely Effective Partisan Politics

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Seen the “Got Insurance?” online ads produced by ProgressNow Colorado to encourage millennials to sign up for ObamaCare?

Read more of the Post’s coverage of the controversial ads here: http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_24509632/pro-obamacare-ads-targeting-millennials-stir-controversy-colorado

And visit ProgressNow’s grammatically-challenged web site url to see all the ads: doyougotinsurance.com.

The ads, designed for social media distribution only, were clearly produced on the cheap — volunteer models, simple staging, simply shot, simple copy — but it was the provocative concepts of the ads that got under the morally indignant skin of the usual suspects on the right and generated a pile of free media exposure… which played right into ProgressNow’s hands.

The ads are really pretty lame from a creative sense (seriously, another take off on the “got milk” theme?) College-ish kids doing keg stands (“Don’t tap into your beer money to cover medical bills, we gotcha covered…”), a young woman with coquettish grin (and handful of birth control pills) fearlessly seeking to bag the cheesy “hot” guy (“My health insurance covers my birth control so all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers.”)

Anyway, you get the idea. High art, this ain’t. And, did the designers of this goofy pap really think this stuff would appeal to the smart millennials they need to talk to? Is every millennial a drunken sot/slut?

I would be shocked if they put more than a few thousand dollars behind the production and distribution of the online ads (SEM, Facebook). In the absence of some external exposure gift and more by random happenstance, they would have reached a few of their target audience and maybe even convinced a couple of the bullet-proof millennials to actually signup for ObamaCare.

And then Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) happened.

As Gardner’s two minute window for grilling Secretary Sebelius opened when she was called before a congressional oversight committee to explain the ObamaCare rollout fiasco, his knee-jerkism surely didn’t disappoint. With a giant blown-up repro poster of one of the ProgressNow ads behind him, Gardener demanded that Secretary Sebelius defend the ads and explain how they were produced. No matter that the ads were neither approved nor paid for by the Feds and instead produced with private dollars, Gardner made sure the provocative ads were front and center for CNN. So, Sebelius calmly and innocently explained that she didn’t pay for the ads and didn’t know anything about them. End of story, right?

Of course not. That’s when the inevitable loony left – kooky right finger pointing/slander/food fight thing kicks in.

The right wing half of the blogosphere/talk radio/twitterscape, right on schedule, erupts with righteous indignation at the mere mention of the ads.

The mainstream media picks up on the firestorm and showcases the ads on every broadcast, editorial page, news show for the last week — thus exponentially expanding the reach of the ProgressNow ads.

So what’s the result of all this mini maelstrom?

ProgressNow gets to showcase the effort to liberal funders claiming credit for millions of web hits (unearned by the lameness of the ads) so they can produce more of these silly, over-the-top campaigns that don’t really do anything more than provide fodder for Limbaugh/O’Reilly/Beck et al.

The right gets to use the ads in soon-to-your-mailbox fundraising appeals as proof points of just how out of touch the lefties have become.

But did the exercise result in any additional millennial signups for ObamaCare? I doubt it. Millennials increasingly ignore the political flame wars and don’t read/tune in to mainstream media sources. But no matter — the need for the zero-sum game played by both right and left to further corsen the political discourse diminishes the voices of the vital center hoping to find rational, common ground, common sense solutions.

Unfortunately, intelligent moderation is boring. Heat sells.


About thecenterwins

Jim Jonas is a strategic communications consultant for corporate, nonprofit and public affairs organizations. He and his firm, JKJ Partners, have worked with campaigns and causes from both national parties and for political reform efforts to promote centrist and independent candidates and organizations across the country.
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