It could have been a really gloomy week for the White House. Obama administration officials were forced to admit yesterday that the Affordable Care Act has so far fallen far short of its goalof ensuring that 40 percent of new health care enrollees are millennials.
So far, the 18-34-year-old set represents just one-quarter of new signups.
Enter Zach Galifianakis and Lance Bass.
In what appears to be the most successful effort of its kind, President Obama’s deadpan “Between Two Ferns” interview with Galifianakis appears to be driving the demographic to the site in record numbers.
FunnyorDie.com was the number one referring website to healthcare.gov yesterday — beating out Google, Whitehouse.gov, and Twitter, an administration spokeswoman announced.
“The President’s interview with Zach Galifianakis … was designed to reach Americans where they live,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “Gone are the days when your broadcast, or yours, or yours, can reach everybody that we need to reach.”
And just today, pop singer Lance Bass, who in 2001 founded a nonprofit to bring healthcare to low-income children, was invited to the White House to discuss healthcare reform.
He touted Obamacare on Twitter, but it looks like the N’Sync star and the president must be a little out of sync. Bass’s tweet directed fans to healthcare.org, not healthcare.gov. He later deleted it.
“A handful of private citizens were invited to talk about Health Care. I have questions just like you- and I brought in several that my fans have brought up,” Bass wrote on Twitter. “I’m not writing any laws here. Don’t hate because I’m trying to get educated. And I friggin messed up the website! Ugh. It’s healthcare.gov !!”
The Galifianakis interview and Bass’s visit underscore the fact that White House officials believe — and have for some time — they need all the star power (and unorthodox ideas) they can get in order to rescue the president’s signature legislative achievement, especially when it comes to selling Obamacare to hard-to-reach 18- to 34-year-olds.
The White House has drafted celebrities, professional athletes, adorable animals, and even geeks to tout the president’s signature law. Here’s a look back:
Over the last few months, Lady Gaga, comedian Amy Poehler, actor Taye Diggs, rapper Pharrell Williams, and “Scandal” star Kerry Washington all plugged healthcare.gov on social media.
— Goddess of Love (@ladygaga) October 2, 2013
— AmyPoehlerSmartGirls (@smrtgrls) October 2, 2013
Even Katy Perry retweeted the president’s message (which he promptly re-retweeted).
Meanwhile, the White House dispatched the first lady to The Tonight Show (popular among millennials) to encourage the under-34 crowd to sign up for Obamacare. Some third-party groups helped out by co-opting pop culture in support of the healthcare law. In a spoof of Snoop Dog’s “Drop it Like it’s Hot,” an Obama impersonator warns young people, “So don’t stand and diddle, my healthcare’s the shizzle, it’s chock full of top notch health care provizzles.”
In what some regarded as an ill-advised publicity stunt, one national group even tried to sell Obamacare with beer bong “brosurance” ads.
Next, the White House Office of Public Engagement reached out the National Football League, providing text with a Super Bowl tie-in in case the athletes didn’t have the time or inclination to compose their own. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and 10-year NFL veteran Donte Stallworth obliged.
When the Affordable Care Act still hadn’t met its enrollment goal, the White House tried to entice millennials – particularly susceptible internet memes — with the Adorable Care Act’s baby animal ads.
And on Tuesday, in yet another social media push, the beleaguered team tapped an often-overlooked demographic: geeks. The #GeeksGetCovered initiative, a social-centric campaign, reminds young inventors that thanks to healthcare.gov, they can launch their own business without fear of a costly illness or injury.
Citing a study that suggests the Affordable Care Act could boost self-employment, Obama’s Chief Technology Officer encouraged budding entrepreneurs to chase their dreams.
“The Obama Administration cares deeply about innovation, and about helping to make sure that geeks across the country… have the freedom and security to keep innovating,” Todd Park wrote on the White House blog.
“The Affordable Care Act also means that this year, geeks, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others can now make the decision to innovate and pursue their dreams without fear of losing coverage,” he said.
Don’t worry nerds: this time you, too, are invited to the party.