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Are youthful ad campaigns helping or hurting Obamacare?

by jmaloni
Thu, Mar 20th 2014 04:00 pm

by Dan King

With the release of the NCAA basketball bracket, March Madness is now in full swing, and the Obama administration is hoping to capitalize on the excitement that will ensue. The White House released a new advertisement targeting college basketball junkies, which features University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma and University of North Carolina men's basketball coach Roy Williams. The advertisement shows Auriemma and Williams explaining their "Sweet 16" bracket of reasons that people should enroll in the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as "Obamacare."

The Affordable Care Act website has a March Madness-style bracket of Internet "gifs" for people to vote for. The gifs explain the best reasons to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. This bracket advertisement comes after previous celebrity endorsements for Obamacare, including an advertisement that featured NBA star LeBron James and an appearance by President Obama on the "Funny or Die" segment "Between Two Ferns" with comedian Zach Galifianakis.

As the administration attempts to branch out to the entertainment and sports communities, the opinions are mixed on whether these advertisements will be successful in getting people to enroll.

The use of internet gifs, March Madness-style brackets and appearances by the president and first lady on comedy shows is a clear attempt to get the younger demographic to sign up for insurance. During her appearance on the "Tonight Show," which also featured her dunking a basketball, the Michelle Obama joked, "Young people think they are invincible, but the truth is a lot of young people are knuckleheads." 

Some others think the White House's campaign will fail in getting young people to sign up. On Fox Business Network's new libertarian-minded show "The Independents," hostess Kennedy described the new ad campaign as "an awful attempt by the White House to be hip." Kennedy said one of the gifs in the March Madness bracket states "you only yolo once" which is an incorrect use of the popular abbreviation "yolo," or "you only live once." 

Despite what politicians and political pundits say, what ultimately matters for the ad campaign is what young people think. Unfortunately for the administration, it seems young people are less than amused by these new advertisements. 

Katie Brown, a senior at Niagara University, said, "Although I liked his interview on 'Between Two Ferns,' I thought the March Madness ad was an 'SNL' parody skit when I saw it" 

Marc Groth, another senior, said, "Ads don't need celebrities, but they need more than 15 seconds in front of a green screen" 

The advertisements did not resonate any better with younger college students either. Kyra Rieker, a freshman at Niagara, said, "I feel like that ad took two seconds to make; it seemed lame and corny."

Only time will tell if this campaign will be successful in getting young people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act before the March 31 deadline.

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