Illinois Like, Totally Hired The Onion to Promote Obamacare Enrollment


No, that’s not a lame joke headline, but it does concern an interesting media strategy: Get Covered Illinois, the organization in charge of that state’s new insurance exchange, will run sponsored content produced by The Onion in the lead-up to the exchange’s March 31 enrollment deadline.

The campaign will include “online banner ads, a video, an editorial and a custom news section” complete with expected zingers like “Recently Insured Man Can’t Wait To Get Out There, Start Seriously Injuring Himself” and this one:

onion_adsPretty good content marketing case study. But will it work?

The idea is that the target demographic—those skeptical folks between the ages of 21 and 34—will be far more likely to check out their super-boring state government initiatives if the organization uses light humor to draw them in.

We’d like to think it will be more successful than The Heritage Foundation’s attempts to encourage young people not to buy health insurance with BuzzFeed GIFs, because marketers know that “HEY HERE’S SOMETHING FUNNY and by the way you should totally check this product out” usually works better than “OMG can you get over how much you SHOULDN’T do this thing that we hate? And did we mention HOW MUCH we hate it? How funny is that?!”

Between this story and Get Covered California’s Twitter/Facebook initiatives, we conclude that these healthcare exchanges, despite all the flack they’ve received, are smarter than your average charity organization.

And in case you wondered which agency might be behind this clever ruse: it’s Fleishman-Hillard.