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Persuading 'Young Invincibles' To Buy Obamacare Insurance

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"What really appeals to that younger age group is both affordability -- they feel they just can't afford it -- and also communicating the value of insurance and how valuable it is to have that insurance and why you need," according to April Todd-Malmlov, the executive director of MNsure, Minnesota's online insurance marketplace. Minnesota is one of the 16 states that's building its own exchange.

Todd-Malmlov said Minnesota will target young adults in two ways -- in the social media they use, such as Twitter and Facebook, and the messages themselves.

Massachusetts found that out the value of targeted messages. The Bay State's 2007 law requires residents to obtain health care coverage or pay a fine, just like the federal law.

Looking to reach a wider audience, the state partnered with the Boston Red Sox and its New England Sports Network to encourage residents who lacked insurance to sign up through its online insurance marketplace, the Connector, Massachusetts' version of MNsure, which will launch Oct 1.

Fans at Fenway Park were a captive audience for ads touting the Connector on the Jumbotron or articles tucked inside game day programs. The public relations pitch stumbled at first as the public reacted poorly to TV ads featuring baseball players.

Uninsured people "didn't want anyone who had insurance and was making a good salary to sort of lecture them. It came off as 'you better do this,'" said Tara Murphy of the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, which devised the Massachusetts campaign.

The campaign switched gears. The Red Sox still provided the platform but the messages came instead from young people who'd suffered serious illnesses or crashes and others who were able to find affordable coverage on the state's new marketplace. TV ads featured a young woman sitting in a green stadium seat at Fenway talking about her life following a breast cancer diagnosis.

Minnesota officials have been talking with its pro teams, including the Twins, Timberwolves, Vikings and the Lynx to encourage residents to sign up for coverage, borrowing a page from the Massachusetts playbook.

And, just yesterday, MNsure announced that Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will be the faces of the exchange.

The state is contracting with BBDO Proximity Minneapolis for the website's roughly $9 million marketing campaign. At the campaign's launch Sunday, BBDO creative director Brian Kroening said he wanted the advertising to be easy to understand, local, and upbeat.

"Because this is in fact great news for those that are uninsured. We liked Paul and Babe because everybody seems to recognize them. They were easy to work with. We were looking for what was unique to Minnesota," Kroening said.

Billboards with Bunyan and Babe's images are going up, along with MNsure advertising on buses and in skyways and newspapers. The campaign's motto will be "The Land of 10,000 Reasons to get Health Insurance."

Sun, Aug 18 2013

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