Officials at the state-run health insurance marketplace are betting that the 15-month-long campaign — which uses real people and real stories — is the best way to engage the estimated 5.2 million uninsured Californians who will qualify to buy insurance on the state-run exchange beginning Jan. 1.
"You won't be seeing movie stars," says Covered California Executive Director, Peter V. Lee. "You won't be seeing rock stars. You'll be seeing real people. We will be releasing as a regular part of our outreach and promotion, stories about real people."
The campaign of radio and television commercials begins on Labor Day with a month-long, three-city trial in San Diego, Sacramento and the Chico/Redding area.
Starting next week, Covered California will begin a three-city test run of its TV and radio ads designed to promote the Affordable Care Act and the value of having health insurance.
Phase one will include and ad that features highway signs welcoming the viewer to what the narrator describes as “a new state of health.”
Another “welcome” ad is in Spanish, below.
Other ads will feature real people telling real stories. Covered California is betting that’s the best way to engage the estimated five million uninsured Californians who will qualify to buy insurance on the state-run exchange.
"You'll see people in their everyday lives doing things that could end up making them need health insurance," says Covered California spokesman Dana Howard.
This no-nonsense approach to promoting California’s insurance marketplace is a departure from ad campaigns hitting the airwaves elsewhere in the nation.
Oregon, for instance, launched a $20 million media campaign with local folk singers who croon not about the health law, per se, but rather about the virtues of living healthy in Oregon.
And in Minnesota, the state’s $9 million ad campaign relies on humor by employing the mythological lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his sidekick blue ox Babe in a series of painful mishaps.
Officials at Covered California say they decided to stay serious with their ads, because they feel that health insurance is not something to joke about.
"Things happen, and when these things do happen to you, it can mean the difference in whether you keep your job or you don’t," Howard says. "Whether you keep your house or you don’t. It’s serious business."
The ad campaign will expand statewide on October first, the same day that Covered California opens for enrollment. That phase of the campaign will include ads in several languages.