Having gall stones removed is no picnic. But having the surgery without insurance and getting threats from collection agents that the stones will be reinserted if you don't pay up is worse.
That's one scenario in Rubin Post aer and Associates' humorous TV campaign breaking this week for health insurer UniCare. The budget was undisclosed; UniCare spent more than $5 million on ads last year, per Competitive Media Reporting.
The goal is to build awareness and prompt requests for information, said RPA management supervisor Nancy Kritzler. Ads are initially due to run in Texas, Illinois and Indiana.
The aforementioned 60-second "Repo Man" spot sees a patient dragged into a van by thuggish agents for not paying a hospital bill. Another ad, "Gown," shows a woman preparing to go to dinner in her hospital gown. "I paid a fortune for this gown. I want to wear it," she says.
In a 30-second spot, a man falls in a dark movie theater and his date searches for a primary care physician in the audience who can refer her to an orthopedic surgeon. The ad positions UniCare as the "cure for referral runaround."
The 60-second spots attempt to show that "if you don't have health insurance, you're really screwed," said Todd Carey, associate creative director/copywriter at the Santa Monica, Calif., agency. " 'Repo Man' and 'Gown' do not sugarcoat the message that healthcare could be really expensive. We found that people are fed up with being lied to."
UniCare is distinguishing itself not only through the irreverent tone but by including plan rates in the spots, Kritzler said. "To just talk about something being affordable isn't enough," she said. "It means different things to different people."
The tag remains "UniCare. The cure for healthcare," which was used in RPA's Effie Award-winning "Medical Miracles" campaign.
RPA has worked with UniCare, a subsidiary of Wellpoint Networks, Thousand Oaks, Calif., since 1997.