In aftermath of health exchange failure, spotlight falls on bad advertising too

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from states that set up their own health care exchanges, it’s that silly advertising doesn’t make a good case for getting health care.

Minnesota, in a short-lived campaign, used Paul Bunyan water skiing into a tree to get people to race to the MNsure website to sign up.

And Oregon? There are no words, really.

Granted the advertising agencies’ goal was to let people know a health care exchange actually existed. But what it didn’t do was answer the obvious question: so what?

When health care was being pushed in Congress, there was no shortage of sad — not to mention, relatable — stories from people who suffered because they didn’t have any. But when it came time to market the state exchanges, those people and those stories disappeared in favor of…..well, there are no words, really.

Maybe the lesson is you can’t sell health care like it’s an Easy Bake Oven.

On his new Daily Show knock-off on HBO, John Oliver skewered the Oregon effort, which has now been shut down. Warning: Obscenities abound. It’s John Oliver, for gosh sakes.

It was just one ad from the ad agency, though.

In defense of his work, Mark Ray, the chief creative officer of the company that created the ads, didn’t help his cause by claiming it was aimed at mothers, as if shallow nonsense was the only way to do it.

You may also think it’s unfair to single out that particular TV spot from the many different ads we created, this one made specifically to connect with mothers, the primary drivers of health care decisions in the family, and always meant to be but one part of a much bigger whole that would reach all Oregonians, regardless of income, ethnicity or geography.

“I don’t think anyone was ever questioning the effectiveness of the ads,” a commenter responded. “They were questioning the focus. He was saying that Portland is easily seduced, shallow and focused on the wrong things. Good feelings over being thorough.”

Like Minnesota, however, Oregon’s main problem was its website didn’t work. Ray said that’s the reason Oregon has given up.

“I didn’t link the commercials to ACA,” counters a commenter on Willamette Week. “I thought it was a really cute tourism campaign.”

(h/t: AdFreak)