The Nose: Youngsters get hip health care ads, oldsters get hip replacements

TheNose@thenewstribune.comMarch 21, 2014 

The days when we belonged to the 18-34 age group are well behind us, and getting farther in the rearview every day.

It’s enough to make the Schnoz feel long in the tooth. Even a little unwanted.

Consider the state’s new marketing campaign that targets whippersnappers in hopes they’ll sign up for subsidized health insurance. These “Young Invincibles” comprise only about 22 percent of Washingtonians who’ve enrolled in private plans.

This demographic, we’d assumed, is made up of lads and lasses living in their parents’ basements, selling plasma to make student loan payments while waiting to see if their applications for state marijuana-grow licenses are approved.

Turns out they’re the fulcrum on which a solvent state health care system — nay, all of Obamacare — is precariously balanced.

Now, with a March 31 enrollment deadline looming, Washington Healthplanfinder is putting on the full-court press to woo these precious Millenials.

Outreach is happening at places where old farts fear to tread: Justin Timberlake concerts, hockey arenas and roller derby matches featuring teams such as Tacoma’s Dockyard Derby Dames.

And then there’s those TV ads — the ones starring an annoying fake rap duo, I.V. and De-Fib. They prance around a state ferry wearing a green satin jacket and white pimp costume. And they conduct hip-hop interviews with bemused health plan enrollees.

State health plan honchos are paying $2.6 million for the ads, out of their $18 million total advertising budget for 2014.

For that amount, you’d think they could hire a real Northwest rapper. Sir Mix-A-Lot, perhaps. He could perform “Baby Got Back Ache.”

Eye of the beholder: Apparently these ads are artistic works, like “Moby Dick” or a Matisse, that some people just don’t get.

“Any art form, whether it’s ads, painting or music, is going to be subjective,” said Michael Marchard, Healthplanfinder’s director of communications, as quoted in the Seattle Times.

Marchard was responding to skeptics last month at a board meeting of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Some called the commercials a waste, or in bad taste. Some said they should be pulled.

These curmudgeons, like us, might favor a different ad concept: “Hey, kids, get off my lawn! ... and into a government health plan!”

You’re not invincible, kids: Want to convince young holdouts to sign up for health care? Frighten them! Portray risky behaviors or medical emergencies they can identify with.

An earlier TV commercial tried to do this by showing a dude crashing his snowboard and landing hard on his heinie.

Here are some other ideas:

 • Twerking.

 • Texting and/or tweeting while twerking.

 • Zombie bites.

 • Bong burns.

 • Re-enacting the beanbag shotgun scene from “Jackass: The Movie.”

 • Mosh pit trampling.

 • Beer pong groin sprain.

 • Rupturing a blood vessel while waiting 116 minutes for customer support from Healthplanfinder.

Row, row, row your boat: All the movers and shakers of Tacoma and points beyond were in town Wednesday for Mayor Marilyn Strickland’s state of the city address.

There was nary an empty seat in the house, nor an inactive smart phone, during this Twitter-fueled 253 lovefest. It was hashtaggy delicious.

But enough already with the dinghy cliches! Tom Pierson, president and CEO of the chamber, said in his introductory remarks that we’re all in the same boat and leaders must “row together.” Later, Congressman Derek Kilmer tweeted: “All oars IN rowing TOGETHER.”

C’mon, people, don’t you remember we hosted two tall ships festivals and have our own Sea Scout base? Put up your spinnaker and sail!

Or someone could buy a motor.

Surely it was an oversight: The Tacoma-lovin’ tweets were flying fast and furious inside the Hotel Murano Ballroom, including this one from someone named Molly: “Tacoma has great public elementary and high schools.”

Reached for comment later, Tacoma’s middle schools said: Ouch!

Oh, baby!: Eagle-eyed Larry Welch of Puyallup pays attention to Tacoma’s daily fishwrap.

He spotted a peculiar lost-and-found ad on the front page of the TNT’s March 7 classifieds section:

White/brown camo Oakley backpack (lost) in Puyallup/South Hill area. Baby and school books inside. $150 reward.

“I hope the baby is OK!” Larry said.

So do we, Larry. So do we.

Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune

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