Last week, we introduced you to "Got Insurance?," a pro-Obamacare media campaign featuring a photo of three aging frat boys wilding out with a keg.
The campaign's Adam Fox told us at the time he was working to push the imagery through various social media platforms -- and yesterday, he got an unlikely assist from Representative Cory Gardner, whose decision to rip on the keg shot at a high-profile Capitol Hill hearing gave the campaign its biggest boost to date. See the video plus campaign photos below.
According to Fox, strategic engagement director for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, which assembled the campaign in conjunction with ProgressNow Colorado Education, the "Got Insurance?" messaging is focused on "active social media users that tend to be young adults, women and also communities of color that have high rates of un-insurance in Colorado and nationwide."
As such, the first wave of ads featured a couple of spots aimed at females, including ones featuring a young, pregnant woman and a Latino mom with a young child. But the rest targeted young, active men, with this one getting by far the most attention:
Critics derided the image as a plug for "brosurance," but Fox and company didn't bemoan the tag -- no surprise, since the same group also embraced the once-derogatory term "Obamacare" in an earlier promotion, "Thanks Obamacare."
Still, the initial attacks on the campaign were dwarfed by the response to Gardner's grilling of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius before the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce committee yesterday. The Colorado congressman unveiled a giant version of the ad....
...while peppering Sebilius with questions and accusations captured in this partial transcript by Colorado Pols:
GARDNER: I would like to show you an advertisement that's going on in Colorado right now. This is an advertisement that a board member of the Colorado exchange has put forward. Do you agree with this kind of ad for Obamacare?
SEBELIUS: I, I can't see it, and again, if...
GARDNER: It's a college student doing a keg stand.
SEBELIUS: If the Colorado exchange did that they are...
GARDNER: Do you approve of this kind of advertising?
SEBELIUS: A state based marketplace.
GARDNER: Do you approve of this kind of advertising?
SEBELIUS: I don't see it, I don't know what it is, and I did not approve it. This is a state based marketplace.
GARDNER: That's a pretty big font. That's a pretty big picture of a keg. And you can't see it?
SEBELIUS: Do I approve of it? I've never even seen it.
GARDNER: You have the ability to opt-out, by the way, as a federal employee, you could take the insurance, so I would just encourage you to make that decision.
SEBELIUS: If I have available employer-based coverage, I am ineligible for the...
GARDNER: I would also like to submit a waiver for my district from Obamacare and hope you will consider waiving Obamacare for the 4th Congressional District.
Here's a video of the moment they shared.
Fox's reaction? Pure pleasure.
Fox says CCHI had "kind of heard in advance" that Gardner was planning to lash out at brosurance, "so we were watching the hearing just to keep track of what was going on in general, but also paying attention to what Colorado folks were going to say at that particular hearing."
Gardner's response "isn't all that surprising," Fox concedes. "We haven't heard that he likes any part of Obamacare, so any part of promoting it to get people the coverage they need, well, we know he isn't so keen on that. But his use of 'brosurance' caused a spike on Twitter of that hashtag. So he really ended up amplifying our campaign by using it in the hearing yesterday."
For his part, Gardner is clearly pleased with how the back-and-forth went. This morning, his office sent out a series of links to articles mentioning the hearing, including a Buzzfeed piece headlined "Kathleen Sebelius Totally Blew It At The House Hearing On Obamacare." The article notes that in response to a Gardner query, Sebilius "said it would be illegal for her to sign up for federal health care exchanges, saying she was not eligible because she had insurance through her employer," which is not the case.
Fox, though, found Gardner's attack on brosurance puzzling, since "Got Insurance?" is a Colorado-based campaign not sponsored by Sebilius's office or the federal government as a whole. Not that he's complaining.
"I think it definitely helped our campaign," he says. "It's a positive for keeping the buzz going around it and giving us the opportunity to continue the conversation and keep the content going" -- something that will continue next week with more "Got Insurance?" images focused on uninsured women.
"Health insurance is important for everybody regardless of age," he goes on. "Just because somebody's young and seemingly healthy doesn't mean they won't get hurt in an accident or get diagnosed with cancer or some other illness, and they'll need health insurance to cover their medical bills. Ultimately everybody needs health insurance, and that's why we used an image that was pushing the boundaries a little bit -- to attract the attention of those young adults who are harder to reach."
That group once included Gardner. Atlantic excoriated his broadside against frat boys since he was once in a fraternity himself: the FarmHouse Fraternity at CSU.
Thus far, no video of a young Gardner doing a keg stand has surfaced -- but no doubt folks are looking. Look below for more of the "Got Insurance?" campaign.
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More from our News archive circa October 1: "Photos: Colorado Obamacare exchange glitchy, but still better than many federal sites."