Best Idea We’ve Seen All Week: The Onion Hired to Promote Health Insurance

Illinois’ state health insurance exchange, Get Covered Illinois, has hired The Onion to promote their health insurance, using the company’s trademark humor in an attempt to reach younger demographics apparently known as “young invincibles.” Onion Labs, The Onion’s in-house ad team will be developing banner ads, a video, as well as an editorial and custom news section featuring Get Covered Illinois. At first glance, this may seem like a joke played by The Onion itself, but it’s legit, and if you think about it, makes sense.

Companies have been using humor to sell their products for a long time. Making people laugh is a great way to reach consumers because they let their guards down and are more welcoming to the product that is being sold to them. My favorite humorous ads are by Old Spice which are ingeniously wacky. They seem to be more interested in making people laugh than selling a product. This may seem counterintuitive but once people get to the supermarkets and see an Old Spice product on the shelves, those good feelings come back and purchases are made.

Granted, deodorant and health insurance are hardly comparable, but why shouldn’t the same principles apply? Get Covered Illinois wants to reach the so called “young invincibles.” I find that name a bit silly, but I can’t deny what the name implies, that young people aren’t concerned about their health and don’t think in the long term. So how can you convince these people to buy health insurance? Definitely not by rattling off some morbid health care statistics (psst — we don’t like to take things all that seriously, especially serious things). The beauty of The Onion is that what they talk about is often relevant and thought provoking despite the irreverent nature of their content.

One banner ad reads, “Man without health insurance forced to sell action figures to pay for medical bills. Don’t sell your action figures.” That is funny, and relevant, speaking to a demographic of people who are less likely to consider the consequences of not having health insurance. Banner ads may be losing their value and are mostly considered to be a nuisance, but humor is a great way to soften people to them. The video and editorial content are sure to take things a step further and if they’re genuinely funny, likely to draw interest in the insurance program from people who may be less informed and spread awareness through social media and youtube. Think what you will about “Obamacare,” but this ad campaign just might work.

Let us know what you think about this in the comments section below!

Sources: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/11/275312005/in-illinois-deal-the-onion-will-promote-health-insurance-really