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HEALTH CARE

Small Agencies Cash In On Obamacare Ad Blitz
 

And now a word from our sponsor--the Affordable Care Act

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Congressional Republicans may be blustering (and filibustering), and states like Florida, Missouri, and Ohio doing their best to undermine the rollout of new public health care exchanges. But from Connecticut to Hawaii, other states are going full-steam ahead to promote their exchanges with slick marketing campaigns that would make a Madison Avenue proud.

The Associated Press estimates that states and the federal government will spend at least $684 million on publicity, marketing, and advertising related to the launch of the exchanges, which are supposed to be ready for open enrollment by October 1. Citing figures provided by TV executives and a broadcasters’ trade group, the Wall Street Journal predicts that insurers alone will spend about another $1 billion on TV advertising related to the health-care overhaul.

Most of the beneficiaries of the boomlet in Obamacare advertising are small, entrepreneurial marketing shops. Louisville agency Doe Anderson scored an $11.3 million contract to run Kentucky’s educational campaign; GMMB, a D.C-.based firm with a Seattle office won the $9.37 million contract to educate Washington state residents; and Pilgrim, a Denver-based shop, was tapped to promote Connect for Health Colorado.

Most of the spots are aimed at groups that have traditionally had large numbers of uninsured: young invincibles, whose participation in the exchanges is essential, and minorities. While most states’ ads focus on individuals, a few, including Connecticut and Hawaii, have ads that target small business owners, too, emphasizing benefits such as the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

Here, a sample of the Obamacare pitches. What do you think? What would Don Draper say?

This spot, made for Cover Oregon by Portland-based agency North as part of a $9.9 million contract, has garnered the most publicity. Teetering perilously on the edge of Portlandia spoof, the ads feature Oregonian singer-songwriters Laura Gibson and Matt Sheehey earnestly strumming guitars in front of idyllic rural backdrops and exhorting a young millennial target audience to “live long.”

Arkansas awarded a $4.3 million contract for marketing its insurance exchange--Arkansas Health Connector--to the Little Rock firm Mangan Holcomb Partners earlier this year. In addition to TV, radio, and print ads, the campaign will include gas-pump advertising at stations around the state. 

Colorado’s ads by Pilgrim emphasize the benefits of competition among insurance companies in its exchange--and tout the potential for many Coloradans to receive tax credit subsidies that will reduce premium costs. 

With a multicultural cast of animated characters, this 30-second TV spot for Kentucky’s exchange, created by the Louisville, agency Doe Anderson, appeals to “everyone who had to choose between medicine and a mortgage payment.” 

IMAGE: Ditto/Getty
Last updated: Sep 26, 2013

ADAM BLUESTEIN is a frequent contributor to Inc., writing about health care, innovation, and new technology. He lives with his wife and two children in Burlington, Vermont.
@AdamBluestein




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