February 12, 2014
By Sara Gilgore
Getting young people to be aware of the Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline could be as easy as peeling back the layers of The Onion satire news website.
Get Covered Illinois, the state’s official online marketplace, has teamed up with The Onion to kick off a marketing campaign to target 18- to 34-year-olds, also known as “young invincibles.” Onion Labs created content with headlines like “Recently Insured Man Can’t Wait To Get Out There, Start Seriously Injuring Himself,” in helping the marketplace access young people.
“Get Covered Illinois understands their target demographic and is taking a creative approach to tailor a message to that audience that goes beyond traditional marketing,” said Mike McAvoy, Onion, Inc. president.
The campaign will extend through March 31 – the final deadline to register for the online exchanges. The Onion matched the state’s $150,000 ad buy, so Get Covered Illinois is getting $300,000 worth of ad buys through the end of the collaboration, said Sabrina Miller, spokeswoman for Get Covered Illinois.
Though Onion Labs has historically worked with companies such as Adobe, 7-Eleven, Home Depot and DSW, among others, Illinois is the first state to forge a partnership with the creative agency for this type of campaign, according to a spokesman from The Onion.
“To our knowledge, no other state is doing such a thing, and we’re really proud of that,” Miller said. “We hope that in other states where there’s also a need to kind of balance out these numbers – and to get young invincibles enrolled – that they will consider doing the same thing.”
In the state, 53 percent of uninsured residents are in this “young invincible” group, Miller said. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services reported at the beginning of January – the most recently available data – 23 percent of the 61,111 Illinoisans who registered during the first wave of open enrollment represented this group. Under the ACA, it is important more young adults sign up for plans because they are typically healthy, and their participation will help to keep insurance market pools balanced.
“We were committed to finding nontraditional resources to reach them,” Miller said. “We need to reach them where they are.”
The campaign officially launched Tuesday, with targeted banner ads appearing on The Onion’s website. The organization is neither for nor against the state’s initiative, said a spokesman from The Onion, but was selected by the state to reach its intended audience.
What Onion Labs is aiming to do is to “create irreverent-yet-relevant comedy and put it to work for an organization that wants to reach Millenials,” said Steve Hannah, CEO of Onion, Inc.
“This is a great opportunity for Onion Labs to work with Get Covered Illinois and do what The Onion does best,” Hannah said.
While the final date to purchase insurance plans hits in 47 days, Friday is the last opportunity to register for coverage that would go into effect March 1.
“We’re really encouraging people to not wait until the last minute,” Miller said. “There’s always some channel where we think people are able to find a way to sign up that’s not going to take a very long time or be very difficult.”