Health Care
6:52 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Under 30? The President Would Like You To Know Health Care Is Hip

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 8:32 am

The deadline to sign up for insurance under the ACA is a little more than two weeks away, and so far, signups among the young — which the law needs to be a success — have been lagging.

This week, Obama tried to reverse that trend by hitting non-traditional media outlets.

On Tuesday, President Obama appeared on Between Two Ferns, a fake cable access talk show produced for the website Funny or Die. On Friday, he joined a 30-minute chat on WebMD.com, and made a quick call in to Ryan Seacrest's radio show. There, the president talked about getting a bad rap for wearing mom jeans, pitched the Affordable Care Act and talked up the success of his Between Two Ferns appearance.

"I figured that it was going to reach our target audience, which was a lot of young people, and it turns out that we've now had I think close to 15 million hits," Obama said.

"You couldn't get that audience on nightly news," says Callie Schweitzer, director of digital innovation at TIME.

She says the president and his team are using a flood-the-zone strategy with these media appearances.

"They're really in a crunch time before this March 31st date, so I think that they're looking for every opportunity they can to find a media moment," she says. "Not every one will be successful, but I think they'll be successful if some of them are."

The first lady also appeared in a Web video featuring the mothers of celebrities.

"We nag you because we love you, so go to HealthCare.gov and enroll today," she said.

Jeff Fromm, co-author of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever, says with all these Web videos and appearances, Obama is aiming to be less presidential and more personal than past presidents.

"[He's] going to seem like [he's] more approachable and real, and millennials like it when people are more approachable and real," Fromm says.

But the real test is whether young people actually sign up. Peter Levine at the Tisch College of Citizenship at Tufts University says that requires more than just making people laugh.

"Ultimately, you've got to make a reasonable argument to young people that this Obamacare thing works, and no amount of celebrity moms is going to change people's opinions, unless they see a reasonable argument," Levine says.

He isn't convinced that argument has actually been made, given widespread misunderstanding and distrust of the health care law. He says it may be nearly impossible to tell if any of the media appearances worked.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

The deadline to signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act is a little more than two weeks away. And so far sign ups among the young, healthy people needed to make the law a success have been lagging. This past week, President Obama tried to do something about it by hitting a number of non-traditional media outlets. But will it work? NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith takes a look.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: On Tuesday, the President appeared on "Between Two Ferns," a fake cable access show produced for the website Funny or Die.

(SOUNDBITE OF WEBCAST)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think it's fair to say that I wouldn't be with you here today if I didn't have something to plug.

KEITH: There was a 30-minute chat on Webmd.com.

(SOUNDBITE OF WEBCAST)

LISA: Well, Mr. President, thank you so much for sitting down to talk with us.

OBAMA: Lisa, thank you for having me.

KEITH: And a quick call-in to Ryan Seacrest radio show.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO TALK SHOW)

RYAN SEACREST: All right. We're back, we're here and they are passing the phone right now to the president of the United States.

KEITH: There, the president talked about getting a bad rap about wearing mom jeans. He pitched the Affordable Care Act and talked up the success of his appearance earlier in the week on "Between Two Ferns."

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO TALK SHOW)

OBAMA: I figured that it was going to reach our target audience, which was a lot of young people, and it turns out that we've now had, I think close to 15 million hits.

CALLIE SCHWEITZER: You couldn't get that audience on nightly news.

KEITH: Callie Schweitzer is director of digital innovation at Time. She says the President and his team are using a flood-the-zone strategy with these media appearances.

SCHWEITZER: They're really in a crunch time before this March 31st date, so I think that they're looking for every opportunity they can to find a media moment. Not all of them will be successful, but I think they'll be happy if some are.

KEITH: The First Lady also appeared in a web video featuring the moms of celebrities.

(SOUNDBITE OF WEB VIDEO)

MICHELLE OBAMA: We nag you because we love you, so go to Healthcare.gov and enroll today.

KEITH: Jeff Fromm, co-author of a book called, "Marketing to Millennials," says with all these web videos and appearances, Obama is aiming to be less presidential and more personal than past presidents.

JEFF FROMM: They're going to seem like they're more approachable and more real and, you know, millennials like it when people are a little more approachable and real.

KEITH: But the real test of all this is whether young people actually sign up. Peter Levine at the Tisch College of Citizenship at Tufts University says that requires more than just making people laugh.

PETER LEVINE: Ultimately you've got to make a reasonable argument to young people that this Obamacare thing works. And no amount of celebrity moms is going to change people's opinion unless they can see a reasonable argument.

KEITH: He isn't convinced that argument has actually been made given widespread misunderstanding and distrust of the health care law. And he says it may be nearly impossible to tell if any of the media appearances worked. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LYDEN: This is NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.