Athletes, Pop Stars, And Booze: The Most Creative Efforts To Promote Obamacare


This week, news broke that the Obama administration has formed its first official partnership with a professional sports team to help spread the word about the health reform law. The Baltimore Ravens will help advertise the upcoming plans in Maryland’s new state-level insurance marketplace, which will open for enrollment in a little less than a month. Maryland’s health department officials note that will be an important way to reach the people who will soon be able to benefit from Obamacare, since they estimate that 71 percent of uninsured people in the state have either watched, attended, or listened to at least one Ravens game in the past year.

Maryland may be the first state to partner with a sports team (the Obamacare administration did attempt to pursue a national partnership with the NFL, but the league declined after massive conservative outcry). However, it hardly provides the only example of a creative strategy to educate people about the health reform law. With Obamacare’s open enrollment period fast approaching, here are other innovative efforts currently being used to publicize it:

A California county is running Obamacare ads with naked people in them.

Each state is branding their own state-level marketplace differently, and the Golden State is going with “Covered California.” In keeping with that theme, some counties are running ads illustrating what it’s like to go uncovered — with photos of naked people holding strategically-placed signs that read, “Cover your family.”

Connecticut is handing out Obamacare-themed sunscreen to people on the beach.


CREDIT: Shutterstock

As another play on the same coverage theme, beachgoers in Connecticut this summer have been receiving packets of sunscreen that tell them to “Get Covered.” The sunscreen labels include the logo and website for the state’s upcoming Obamacare marketplace. State officials are also handing out similarly-branded containers of hand sanitizer and packets of band-aids.

Oregon hired singer-songwriters to make Obamacare more appealing for the hipster crowd.

oregon ad

CREDIT: Cover Oregon

In July, Oregon launched ads for its state marketplace that play to the Portlandia crowd. The TV ads feature local songwriters who composed songs about why it’s so important to have health insurance, and they promise to get the word out to “each logger and lawyer and stay-at-home dad.”

One Oregon official took to Reddit to answer questions about Obamacare.

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One of the business managers for Oregon’s new marketplace turned to the social media site Reddit to give residents an opportunity to ask her questions about the upcoming changes under Obamacare. “I am Georgann Helmuth, Cover Oregon subject matter expert. Ask me anything about getting financial help for health insurance through Cover Oregon!” she wrote to introduce her personal Ask Me Anything thread, which ended up getting more than 200 comments.

Kentucky is using bourbon festivals to get people to sign up for Obamacare.


CREDIT: Shutterstock

States tend to be marketing their new marketplaces by personalizing their campaigns to their own regions. Kentucky is a prime example. It’s planning on doing outreach efforts to people at several bourbon festivals this fall. The state’s spokesperson told Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff they’re trying to go to events that will be well-attended by lots of young people.

Minnesota is relying on Paul Bunyan and his blue ox to spread the word about Obamacare.

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CREDIT: Rupa Shenoy/MPR News

Another state playing to regional culture is Minnesota, where state officials are using Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox in their advertisements about the health law. “We liked Paul and Babe because everybody seems to recognize them. They were easy to work with. We were looking for what was unique to Minnesota. The ball of twine‘s agent was harder,” explained a spokesperson for the advertising company that’s helping to produce the ads. They’re aiming for ads that are “easy to understand, local, and upbeat.”

Washington wants to put Obamacare ads on Pandora Radio and Porta-Potties.


CREDIT: Shutterstock

Washington State officials are having a hard time figuring out how to reach uninsured people in rural areas. They want to experiment with creative advertising strategies, like putting Obamacare ads on prescription drug bags and on the Internet radio service Pandora. They’re also considering sponsoring Porta-Potties at outdoor concerts.

Katy Perry’s tweeting about Obamacare.


CREDIT: HD Wallpaper

A cadre of celebrities met with top White House advisers over the summer to talk about how they can help get the word out about health care reform. Now, some of them are taking to their social media accounts to follow through on that. Pop star Katy Perry recently tweeted out information about Obamacare enrollment, and President Obama’s official Twitter account thanked her for the publicity (Perry has about eight million more followers than the president does).

Funny or Die is producing videos to help educate people about Obamacare.

funny or die

CREDIT: Funny or Die

The comedy site has produced several light-hearted videos about health reform that are aimed at twentysomethings. They’re housed on a new Obamacare section on the site. Funny or Die’s president of production, Mike Farah, told Mother Jones that he hopes the videos will help make signing up for Obamacare “a normal thing, something that isn’t politicized, something that comes second nature to younger people (like putting your seatbelt on).” Farah says the site didn’t get any money from the federal government to promote the health law, but wanted to lend a hand to reach out to young Americans anyway. “We heard they needed help and we wanted to get working,” he explained.