No matter which side of the political aisle you favor, we can all agree that there’s at least one area where our government needs to steer clear: trying to be cool.
There is nothing cool about the government. Necessary? Yes. Admirable? On rare occasions. But cool? Never, ever, ever. The latest example: a series of “brosurance” ads trying to get 20-something-aged males to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Now, the reasoning for the “brosurance” ad campaign, now underway in Colorado, is an understandable one: financially secure and healthy young men are the linchpin of the Obamacare system. They pay more under Obamacare than they would under other systems in order to support their less-healthy older countrymen and women. In theory, they’d reap the benefits when today’s toddlers are paying higher premiums to support today’s bros two decades from now.
But understandable reasoning, in this case, leads to cringeworthy execution. The “brosurance” ads make department store catalogs look edgy and dangerous. Male models are doing hypercontrived “keg stands,” hacking away with a golf club (look what that boy did to that American flag) or discussing their “gnarly” bike wrecks (has anyone used the word “gnarly” in a nonironic way since 1988?).
This is beyond awkward. It’s like watching your parents twerk.
The government’s aim here shouldn’t be trying to act cool. That’s a battle every government official lost back when they were memorizing state house delegations rather than baseball starting lineups in middle school. Instead, the government should co-opt people to act cool on its behalf. Throw in a few useless and easily discarded promises — you know, just like in every presidential campaign — and presto, instant mass appeal. Here, we’ll throw out a few ideas to get started:
NerdCare: Picture this: As Thor’s about to go into battle in next month’s “Thor: The Dark World,” he stops, looks at the camera and says, “My hammer helps me survive a battle. And Obamacare helps me get well after it.” Nerd freakout! Promise: Everyone who signs up for Obamacare gets a Blu-ray DVD of the new "Dr. Who" and "Hunger Games" movies with exclusive deleted scenes of your favorite characters filling out insurance enrollment forms. Thrilling!
HipsterCare: Insurance for people who think health plans were cool before they went mainstream. Campaign will be conducted exclusively through poorly exposed photo filters on Instagram, with messages woven into trendy taco plates and floating atop small-batch craft beers. Promise: Sign up for Obamacare, and you’ll get a free exclusive Arcade Fire download of the Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash song “Hurt”: “I hurt myself today/but my co-pay’s manageable thanks to the Affordable Care Act.”
CarpoolCare: Parents running afterschool activities don’t have time to worry about insurance, which is why CarpoolCare will be delivered through baby pictures on Facebook, the only way parents keep in touch with one another these days. Promise: All enrollees get a minivan magnet pledging the exclusive and exceptional status of their children, which of course is how all are judged in suburbia.
LeftyCare: Insurance for liberal-minded folk who can celebrate their legislative victory, but not too loudly, because that might hurt someone else’s feelings. Promise: Obamacare will actually be provided by President Barack Obama himself! That’s right — when you need that invasive annual exam, he'll be there!
RightyCare: Insurance for conservatives, who, should the ACA actually work, can remind America that it was actually in large part a Republican idea first. Promise: If enough people enroll in RightyCare, Obama will legally change his name to “Nobama” or “Obummer,” depending on the results of a national call-in vote. Which one’s your pick?
MileyCare: Insurance designed for teens who really want to shock the world but don’t yet realize that it’s going to bite them in the tail when they’re trying to get a real job five years from now and those pictures are still on the web. Coverage includes creation of a second identity if needed. Promise: Comes with a helpful pamphlet to remind your disapproving parents that the world didn’t end when Elvis shook his hips or 2 Live Crew got filthy on cassette tapes, either.
CareOfDuty: Insurance as a video game! This campaign will demonstrate how stealing a car and leaping off a bridge might seem cool in a game, but they’ll be murder on your wallet when you factor in medical costs. Promise: Enrollees can unlock a special “ACA bazooka” for use in GTA V, Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. It’ll still decimate your opponents, but it’ll also cover their co-pay while they recuperate in a specially designed in-game hospice facility.
CallerCare: Designed for talk-radio show callers and their online counterparts, comment-section jockeys. Special emphasis on getting people to walk around while waiting on hold, and on lowering blood pressure while listening to MSNBC or Fox News. Promise: Someone will take your many and varied concerns about the direction this country is heading very, very seriously and not just smile and nod politely at you as they back away.
Feel free to add your own campaigns below, bros and bro-ettes.