Watch: The Very Best Government-Funded Obamacare Ads

A deluge of TV ads are running ahead of the October launch of state health insurance exchanges; here's a look at some of the best

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Health insurance has a lot of TV spokespeople these days: folk singers, kayakers, crab fisherman, even a giant blue ox. It all depends on where you live. With Obamacare’s state-based health insurance exchanges launching Oct. 1 and a large swath of Americans still unaware of how the law will work, states are spending millions of federal dollars to inform their residents about what’s coming. Here are TIME’s unscientific awards for the best Obamacare ads:

Best Hipster Theme Music: Oregon

About $3 million in federal funds paid for an advertising campaign that includes Oregon-connected folksy musicians Matt Sheehy and Laura Gibson and the hip-hop group Lifesavas. The state rounded out its video offerings with an animated, slightly trippy video set to a song called “We Fly With Our Own Wings” by Portland’s Dave Depper.

Best Use of a Folk Hero: Minnesota

Minnesota has a lot of lakes, one giant lumberjack statue and a new health insurance program. All are featured in a series of videos touting the state’s health exchange, MNsure, which is expected to serve 20 percent of all Minnesotans. In one spot, Paul Bunyon is waterskiing when things go terribly wrong, he hits a tree and is rescued by Babe the Blue Ox. Leslie Sipprell, a senior vice president at BBDO Proximity in Minneapolis, which produced the spots, said the ad makers started their brainstorming process on how to produce the MNsure ads by asking, “What can we do that’s uniquely Minnesotan?” BBDO conducted focus groups testing a few different ads and Paul and Babe scored high. “Even people who didn’t know who they were were just really entertained by this big guy and his blue animal,” says Sipprell.

Most Consistent: Connecticut

A series of spots advertising a state exchange called Access Health CT let residents know that things will never be the same once the health care reform law kicks in. Messages in the ads include: “Change is surprising.” “Change is here.” “Change is fair.” “Change is affordable.” “Change is good.” “Change is surprising.” “Change is rewarding.” “Change is healthy.” “Change is valuable.” “Change is personal.” Change is coming. Got that?

Most Flattering: Colorado

Everyone with health insurance is a big winner! That’s the message in a series of ads for Colorado’s exchange, ConnectForHealthCO. Those depicted in the spots signing up for coverage are treated to a World Series party in the Colorado Rockies locker room, the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby and a dance party with Vegas showgirls.

Closest Resemblance to a Pharmaceutical Ad: Kentucky

The longer version of an ad for the state’s health exchange, Kynect, lulls viewers with panoramic animated shots of the state’s highway system, farms and suburbs while a narrator soothingly lists a rundown of the federal health care law’s components.

Most Diverse: Maryland and Vermont (Tie)

The list of people who need health insurance through MarylandConnect is long and varied. Those featured in the exchange’s ad include Marylanders of all races, a gay couple, a crab fisherman, a barista, two groups of farmers and an auto mechanic. To advertise Vermont Health Connect, the state put out an ad the includes appearances by lots of sporty folks from the Green Mountain state, including a boy in a wagon, a white water kayaker, a jogger, a ballerina, a girls’ basketball coach, hockey goalie, a rock climber and a fly fisherman.

Best Panoramas and Cuddles: New York

From Niagara Falls to the Manhattan skyline to the Adirondacks, those behind NY State of Health want viewers to know their state has lots of majestic scenery and lots of love. This ad includes lots of parents hugging their children in a variety of locations, including a barber shop and a sailboat. There’s also a bonus shot of a mom husking corn on a porch with her young daughters.

Best Visual Aids: California

Maybe it’s not surprising that a state known for its freeways and drive time would use mock highway signs to gets its message across. An ad for Covered California, which hopes to enroll 1.4 million people in its exchange in 2014, couldn’t be more direct. The spot, called “Signs,” features a lot of them.

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