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Covering the “Hows and Whys” of Tell a friend – Get Covered

Posted: February 24, 2014, 2:02 a.m.
by Molly Moore.

The lyrics “At first I was afraid, I was petrified” from Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit “I Will Survive” described my initial thoughts as I scrolled through for the first time. The Tell a Friend – Get Covered campaign “is a collaboration of state health exchanges, led by Covered California, along with partners including Enroll America” with a goal of promoting the Affordable Care Act.

However, the video advertisements to promote the ACA are far from affordable. It is rumored that California’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, paid $1.37 million for a livestreamed video featuring fitness guru Richard Simmons. The video’s intended target audience — millennials.

Ironically, Simmons sang a lyric from Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” as he interestingly promoted signing up for health insurance. Simmons wore red tights and a sequined tank top displaying two nude people holding hands as he rolled on the ground and waived his hands between his split legs to encourage young people to sign up for Obamacare.

More than a month after its release, I am still dumbfounded by the public relations approach taken in the making of the Richard Simmons “Dance Off” video and the Tell a Friend – Get Covered campaign. Petrified, you could say.

Politics aside, I will stick to analyzing the public relations approach taken by the Tell a Friend – Get Covered campaign.

For public relations students and professionals, the four-step public relations process — research, planning, implementation and evaluation — has probably been etched in your mind as well as the words of your favorite song. The process is the basis of how every communication campaign should begin and end.

The research stage shows the need for a change in awareness, action or attitude. It gives reason for a campaign’s purpose.

The “About Our Campaign” page of states that its goal is to share the “hows and whys of how to get covered,” yet its home page does not provide one speck of information about why Americans should get covered. I found that the entire campaign is consistently inconsistent with providing the “hows and whys” of signing up. Instead, the campaign’s message seems to simply tell you to get covered through unconventional video clips.

The website has a “Select Your State” section that does provide the “hows and whys,” but you have to choose your state from the home page before having the option of getting answers from its FAQ page.

The video campaign relies on celebrities and spoofs to disseminate the message to get covered. However, it does so without providing facts or reason.

I understand the desire to use celebrity endorsements, hip-hop and pop music to gain the interest of millennials — the campaign’s target audience. I will admit that the campaign’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” spoof and “Barack Obama Singing Do What U Want by Lady Gaga” video are comical.

If Covered California and partners of the Tell a Friend – Get Covered campaign sought to provide humor for young Americans, I consider their efforts a roaring success.

Funny? Yes. Effective? Not so much.

I feel confident that I am not the only one who deems the video message providing the incentive to “sign up cause it’s hot,” as a lousy public relations ploy. As entertaining as the lyrics “We’ll cover all your ‘vizzles,’ your ‘dizzles’ AND your ‘tizzles’” may be, I don’t think that it’s enough to convince young Americans to sign up for Obamacare.

Perhaps the best thing the Tell a Friend – Get Covered campaign could do is to go back to the four-step public relations process and provide the “hows and whys” for young Americans to sign up.

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