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FUNNY STUFF

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Government-sponsored health insurance is no laughing matter ... unless you're advertising it.

Campbell-Ewald Advertising enlists the comedic capabilities of actor Leslie Nielsen in its first campaign for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Medicare and Medicaid services. The Naked Gun star hams his way through a series of spots that parody the typical telemarketing commercials with talking heads droning on about their products.

In one spot, Nielsen bumbles around a hospital examination room while explaining Medicare's toll-free help line. Many of the bits were ad-libbed by the actor, according to CEA chief creative officer Bill Ludwig.

The agency and client were concerned that the work, which was interrupted by September's terrorist attacks, did not strike the right tone. Ultimately, they decided to forge ahead.

"I don't know about anyone else, but I could use a good laugh right now," Ludwig says.