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Obama Gives a Lesson on Knowing Your Audience in 'Between Two Ferns'

Comedian Zach Galifianakis's viral video interview with the President shows how you can use the media creatively to get your message out.
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In his 2008 campaign for President, Barack Obama made one thing clear: He knew how to reach an audience. Indeed, Obama put together an unbeatable campaign reliant on less-traditional forms of media to garner the support of young voters--and then rode their ballots to the White House.

The President's recent guest appearance on Zach Galifianakis's online comedy show Between Two Ferns proved that he hasn't lost his touch. The man still knows how to use media in unusual ways to send a message.

Since the episode's debut early on Tuesday, the Internet has been abuzz about President Obama's interview. Originally posted on the website Funny or Die, which produces the show, the video now has received more than 12 million views. And though Obama enters comedic territory that few would expect from a President, his appearance on Between Two Ferns was essentially a stunt aimed at promoting the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times reports that Obama's appearance on the show had been in the works since last summer, when an executive producer approached the White House with the idea. It's safe to say that the plan played out pretty well for the Obama administration--it's hard to imagine a press conference or interview getting close to the amount of traction the video has.

While making cracks that Galifianakis has a three-inch vertical leap and that Bradley Cooper carried The Hangover, President Obama plugged the controversial health care law. In fact, he expressly stated his intentions at the outset, to the apparent displeasure of Galifianakis.

Here is a taste of how that conversation went:

Obama: First of all, I think it is fair to say that I wouldn't be with you here today if I didn't have something to plug. Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?

Galifianakis: Oh yeah, I heard about that. It's the thing that doesn't work. Why would you get the guy that created the Zune to make your website?

Obama: Heathcare.gov works great now and millions of Americans have already gotten health-insurance plans. And what we want is for people to know that you can get affordable health care. And most young Americans--right now--they're not covered, and the truth is that they can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cellphone bill.

Galifianakis: Is this what they mean by drones?

The President explained how exactly people can sign up for coverage, clearly conveying his message to the "young Americans" that got him elected--and that make up the loyal Between Two Ferns audience. 

Last updated: Mar 12, 2014

ABIGAIL TRACY

Abigail Tracy is a staff reporter for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked for Seattle Metropolitan magazine and Chicago magazine.




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