March 17th, 2014

Obamacare thinks the young…

…are also stupid. But this Millennial says they’re not, and that’s why they’re not signing up for Obamacare in the requisite numbers. He especially points out how downright offensive and insulting the Obamacare ads pitched at the young have been.

Everyone noticed that right from the start. It’s especially puzzling because one thing you can say about Obama is that, in the past, he hired PR people who were geniuses at reaching the young. The young voted for him in droves and are actually responsible for the fact that he’s president. And although many on the right were puzzled by the appeal of ad campaigns such as the Julia one and the Lena Dunham one, the Obama team was pitch-perfect about this demographic and what would appeal to it. His team also managed to use the internet to carefully and precisely focus on their young targets with all sorts of appeals almost perfectly crafted to get them in exactly the right spot.

So what went wrong with the Obamacare messaging? Perhaps the problem was that what they were trying to sell wasn’t so much a dream of dependency or sexiness (the Julia and Lena ads) that would have no cost but only benefit, but a much more muddled message that involved the young person actually paying money, and in fact more money than before. Part of it may be just as simple as that.

But the rest was just a flat-footedness that even us fuddy-duddy conservatives could tell was off-key. What happened? I assume the same people who did Obama’s campaign were not in charge of publicity for Obamacare. But who were the folks doing Obamacare ads—Republican moles? Could Republicans be that savvy?

26 Responses to “Obamacare thinks the young…”

  1. Mr. Frank Says:

    The dogs didn’t like the dog food. No amount of advertising can overcome that.

  2. OlderandWheezier Says:

    It’s one thing to come up with “cool” ads when you’re running for office and promising everything under the sun with nary a mention of cost or downside. Quite another when you’re trying to get the spoiled millennial’s to actually give up some of their own $$ for those wonderful things you promised during the campaign.

  3. Don Carlos Says:

    Forgive me, Neo, but the examples from your link are worth reading because they tell us what the WH geniuses think of American twenty-somethings:

    “Blame the Obamacare marketing team. Since the exchanges launched in October, the team’s attempts to persuade us to sign up have been inappropriate, incoherent and simply insulting.

    “The list of examples is long and painful, but the “Brosurance” ads, which have gone viral across the country, are the most famous flop by far. In print and social media, these ads paint the picture of Millennials as drunks and dolts.

    “One ad shows three young men — “bros” — doing a keg stand. Its tagline: “Don’t tap into your beer money to cover those medical bills.” Another tries to link flu shots to liquor shots. The worst ad shows a guy and a girl about to hook up. It reads, “I hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control.”

    “This insulted more Millennials than it convinced. The spots ultimately reached a huge portion of the youth market, but only because the outrage was so intense that the ads were lampooned on national television. When Comedy Central showed the ads to a group of 20-somethings, every last one expressed disgust and disappointment.

    “Those same Millennials were likely left scratching their heads at some of the White House’s other marketing ploys.

    “Take the recent Magic Johnson ad, for instance. It was clearly made by someone who doesn’t understand anyone younger than 30. Most Millennials don’t even know who Magic Johnson is. He retired in 1991. Today’s college students were all born after that, meaning they couldn’t tell you if he played baseball, basketball, or maybe cricket.

    “Other ads have drawn scorn and ridicule. The “pajama boy” social media campaign led to scathing responses from the media for making Millennials look self-absorbed and annoying. The “Mom jeans” campaign tried, and failed, to link health coverage with awkward-fitting pants. The case for health care had never been less clear.

    “One of the administration’s allies, Get Covered America, took the confusion a step further. It created a two-minute original song featuring singing cats, dogs, and birds. Intended to spark a nationwide increase in enrollments, the ad was greeted by silence, receiving only 60,000 views on YouTube.”

  4. Fausta Says:

    One question:
    Why would millennials sign up for individual coverage, when they’re eligible as dependents under their parents’ policies until age 26?

    Am I the only person asking?

  5. neo-neocon Says:


    Some employment-related policies won’t cover them, despite the fact that they’re allowed to.

    But the article mainly refers to older millennials, the 27-to 30ish group, the ones the ads were supposed to appeal to.

  6. Ray Says:

    The millennials have discovered they have been suckered. Obama promised them the government would provide all this free stuff and now they discover he expects them to pay for all the free stuff other people get.

  7. T Says:

    “So what went wrong with the Obamacare messaging?”

    My own two cents: Olderandwheezier above has the right idea. The Obaminions appealed to the millenials on theory. With the implementation of O-Care (the disastrous web rollout is but one example) we witness the difference between theory and appilication. They might understand how the heart pumps blood — they think that gives them the skill of a cardiothoracic surgeon.

    Yogi Berra bears repeating here: “In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” An oft repeated error in the theoretical halls of Progressive social science academe.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    But my point is also: why were the ads so obviously bad? How could they have thought for a moment that those particular ads would appeal to anyone? It’s not just that they didn’t work because the product was bad; it’s that they couldn’t have worked even had the product been good.

  9. Sgt. Mom Says:

    “Why were the ads so obviously bad?”

    I’ll take a shot – perhaps because the creators that were hired were drunk with previous success, and preferred not to focus-test, or to listen to adverse opinions when focus-tested.

    My daughter (aged 34, two-hitch USMC veteran) is one of those healthy young millennials, but she is also far more ragingly conservative than I was at her age. She took a great deal of care in selecting and paying for her own health insurance – which she will have for another year or so. She pays $85 a month for a bare-bones policy and can just afford that. The Obamacare-compliant policy also offered by her insurer was $240 a month. She can’t afford that.

    Right now, she is all for having ACA repealed. No fixes, no patches. Just repeal the damned thing and start again.

  10. DerHahn Says:

    Chalk me up as agreeing with T and Olderandwheezier.

    No amount of lipstick was going to make anyone want to dance with this pig.

    Obama’s media team looked good when they were trying to motivate people to do something to which they were already inclined (I’d say this is generally true of any ‘sucessful’ media/advertising/pr campaign). I think you’ve noted (Jim Gehraty and other people have as well) that Obama has been singularly uninspiring in try to move the public opinion needle around anything other than getting himself elected. Part of the reason the AbominableCareAct is so awful was his inability to get other Democrats onboard without outright political bribery. Even in that case he hasn’t been spectacularly sucessful since he untypically got fewer votes in 2012 than in 2008. He only had the clear the pretty low bar of being better than the awful performance of the Romney campaign.

    If the product had been good then the jokey-hipster-camp style of the ads would have looked like genius.

  11. T Says:


    My point was not that the ads were bad because the product was bad, but that the ads were bad because the administration’s (theoretical) perceptions of the millenial generation were based upon theory not fact. (Just as their perceptions of conservatives are based upon flawed theory rather than fact — “All conservatives are evil.”)

    In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Ries and Trout indentify two factors that I think apply here (I feel like I’m quoting Alinsky!!):

    4) Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions.

    The adminstration’s perception of the millenial generation was based upon what they thought the millenial generation was all about, not upon information garnered from fact. Obama’s appeal to the young crowd was marketed on the basis of generic theory, not specifics: Hope and Change Hope for what?; Change what, when? It all sounds good as long as it’s unspecified.

    IMO what we see in these poor excuses for ads is precisely what this administration thinks millenials are all about just like all conservatives are evil.

    18) Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.

    The campaign was successful — twice. ‘Nuff said!

  12. Lizzy Says:

    Obama’s campaign was selling a dream – the cool, post-racial president. Voting for him was cheap grace; you could prove that you were not a racist with very low investment, such as your vote, a bumper sticker, T-shirt, pro-Obama tweet, etc..

    Health insurance is real money, a huge personal investment that will only really pay off if you get seriously ill or injured. Paired with enormous college loan debt and poor job-market, I doubt a lot of them could wing it even if they wanted to. And for all of that HHS contraceptive mandate talk, young women must know that they can get contraceptives on the cheap through Planned Parenthood and stores like Target (no expensive health insurance needed).

  13. T Says:


    Perhaps a further answer to your question of why the ads were so bad.

    Perhaps we’ve found out that the only thing this one-dimensional administration can sell successfully is Obama.

  14. parker Says:

    Our youngest child (31) and his wife (28) are really POed. (They voted for Romney.) They had individual catastrophic policies that were very affordable and now they find their rates have nearly tripled. After years of graduate school they are only a few years into their professional careers. Both are self-employed, they are paying off loans, trying to save for a down payment on a home, and thinking about baby makes 3.

    Obamacare is siphoning off money they could use far more productively elsewhere. This is happening across board (age wise) all across the land. Obamacare is the gift that never stops giving.

  15. Lizzy Says:

    I think the ads are symptomatic of how out of touch and freaky the Left has been for a good long while. The Left has been gobbling up all sorts of government money for crazy stuff like that Richard Simmons web telethon but it’s managed to stay under the radar because it’s directed at a much smaller audience. Every now and then a story might pop up about holding BDSM classes in San Francisco using a grant for AIDS education. However, with Obamacare they had to go big – desperately selling it out in the open in order to get the needed 10′s of millions to sign up. And they had no idea how to sell to anyone other than true believers like themselves in their insular little enclaves.

  16. kaba Says:

    Remember this is the same crew that thought giving Russia a mistranslated “Reset” button was brilliant diplomacy.

  17. blert Says:

    0-care went from high concept with a lot of ‘unk-unks’ to a bill in the mail.

    The 25+ turned 30+ years old during the last five-years.

    Ones world view changes rather drastically when you depart college and discover private enterprise. (!)

    While Barry continues to blame Bush… the younger set is thinking “Bush who?”

    For the college crowd of the now, Barry is the drone warlord of Afghanistan, Gitmo is still in business and he’s a busted flush in Syrian freedom.

    Ukraine is on the boil.

    Youth unemployment is headed to the Moon.

    The ‘system’ prescribes Medic-aid for the unemployed — which turns out to be worse than no insurance status was in 2013.

    He’s vectoring funds to voter blocs that are ALREADY in his corner. These funds are coming from everyone else… including those whose careers never got started thanks to Barry.

    Black on White crime was supposed to recede — just like the oceans. Instead, it has gone straight up.

    The Democrat Party is actually running away from AA. This is most evident in California. The Asian bloc has woken up: AA is designed to screw them the most. They are uniformly over their quota, way over their quota.

    California is a bellwether. Official concern over ‘Black economics’ is going to be kicked to the curb. Since their votes are not up for grabs, all politicians everywhere will shift their eyes to the North Asian voters. (Chinese, Japanese, Korean)

  18. Don Carlos Says:

    I will quote myself: “they tell us what the WH geniuses think of American twenty-somethings.”

    After all, who/what do community organizers (COs) organize? Why, the pinheads, the misleadable, the dependent ones, the deviancy-defined-down. In short, the human dross is what community organizers market themselves to, and live off. Being a sociopath is a prerequisite for becoming a successful CO.

  19. parker Says:

    Burning draft cards and bras has morphed into burning t-shirts:

  20. Tara Says:

    Magic Johnson? The only reason I’ve ever even heard of him was because of a poster on one character’s wall in an episode of the Cosby Show.

    Those ads are bafflingly off-target.

  21. G Joubert Says:

    “What happened?”

    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Not even for millenials. We’ve known it from day one of this administration. It takes the naive and young a while longer to figure it out. And you speed the process up when you send them a bill at the same time.

  22. T Says:

    And speaking of Obamacare ads, I offer Chris Muir’s Day By Day panel for Tuesday.

    Maybe that Cruz image should have been on the back of a horse; jus’ sayin’.

  23. KLSmith Says:

    Maybe the ads were bad because they had to be produced by low bid government contract. Which would be pretty funny. They bought big govt, now they get to own it. Plus they probably do think their own voters are pretty stupid. Didn’t they prove it by voting for the Ego from Chicago? And of course, they probably didn’t think they had to try too hard because a product as awesome as Obamacare would sell itself.

  24. M J R Says:

    “The young voted for him in droves” sez neo.


    And that’s pretty convincing evidence of how utterly ignorant “the young”, as a group demographic, were. And are? How ’bout “are”? We shall be seeing about that:

    blert points out that “The 25+ turned 30+ years old during the last five years,” and Lizzy hits it on the head: “voting for him was cheap grace; you could prove that you were not a racist with very low investment, such as your vote, a bumper sticker, T-shirt,” whereas “health insurance is real money, a huge personal investment . . . .”

  25. T Says:

    And yet another two cents. This from James Taranto this morning via Instapundit:

    That means young men are the most disadvantaged by ObamaCare’s price controls–and, as a corollary, that they are the group on which ObamaCare’s solvency is most dependent. And the hip Mainers think the way to appeal to them is with male nudity?

    Obama supporters have a quaint faith in the power of marketing. They don’t seem to grasp that persuading people to vote for one politician over another–essentially a cost-free proposition–is a far smaller order than persuading them to purchase an expensive product, especially one that offers a poor value for their money.

  26. Hangtown Bob Says:

    ” It’s especially puzzling because one thing you can say about Obama is that, in the past, he hired PR people who were geniuses at reaching the young. The young voted for him in droves and are actually responsible for the fact that he’s president.”

    Maybe it is very simply because Obamacare is not as “black” as is Obama.

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