Courting Young Invisibles: A Success Story?

Mar 13

“So do you go to any websites that are .coms or .nets, or do you mainly just stick with .govs?”

As I sat eating spaghetti with my roommates on Tuesday night and loading a video on my phone, I didn’t expect much more than five minutes of awkward humor. It wasn’t until Between Two Ferns host Zach Galifinakis asked President Obama about his web surfing preferences that the president’s appearance was made apparent: this wasn’t just entertainment, but an advertisement for health insurance.

Though it may seem like an attempt to combat declining enrollment rates in the final weeks of open enrollment on, Mashable reports that President Obama’s appearance on the popular web series has been in the works since last summer when his administration invited representatives from Funny or Die “and other celebrities and creatives” to discuss ways to promote healthcare to consumers, particularly “young invincibles”—or young invisibles, in the words of Galifinakis. Given that this video appeared multiple times on my Facebook newsfeed with commentary like “amazing” and “hilarious,” and without mention of its underlying motive, it seems that it was effective in engaging this group in a language its members understand and respond to. And although web videos aren’t exactly cutting edge—having a video go viral has been the most coveted metric of success for marketers since streaming video online was possible—it does show that the government is capable of creating contemporary content that leverages trends and is open to taking risks in the digital space.

While there’s no doubt as to the video’s popularity and viral appeal, the real question is: is it making people sign up for health insurance? Traffic to was 40% higher on Tuesday than on Monday, receiving nearly 900,000 visits.  The increase in web traffic is impressive, but it remains to be seen if it will convert to increased enrollment numbers. With just a few weeks left to go, we won’t have long to wait to see if President Obama and his viral video achieves the dream of moving past engagement and web hits and actually sparks behavior change.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2014 at 6:50 pm and is filed under Behavior Change, Public Health, Social Marketing, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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