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.