Selling healthcare: Colorado uses beer kegs, golf clubs and bros

Rob, Zach and Sam — described as "bros for life" — are helping Colorado's health insurance program spread the word to young adults about the need for insurance.
Rob, Zach and Sam — described as “bros for life” — are helping Colorado’s health insurance program spread the word to young adults about the need for insurance.
(Colorado Consumer Health Initiative)

Most of the sales pitches being made for the new national healthcare plan have been along the lines of California’s earnest effort, using pictures of cherubic children in toy cars with taglines like ”Preexisting conditions won’t stop your kids anymore.”

Not so everywhere.

In Colorado, the sales job is the province of, among others, “Rob, Zach and Sam, bros for life.”

They star in social media ads for Colorado’s healthcare plan with the presumed detritus of bro life: beer kegs, those ubiquitous red beer cups, errant golf clubs.


The ad strategy comes off as one that will either brilliantly connect to its desired audience — young adults — or at least have fun trying.

“Yo, Mom, do I got insurance?” said one ad meant to be passed around via social media. (Grammar does not rank high among bros, apparently.)

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“My girlfriend broke my heart, so me and the bros went golfing. Then my buddy broke my head. Good thing Mom made sure I got insurance.”

Says another ad, titled “Brosurance”: “Keg stands are crazy, not having health insurance is crazier. Don’t tap into your beer money to cover those medical bills. We got it covered, now you can too.”

To be sure, the Colorado bros are only part of the healthcare pitch. Other social media efforts in that most outdoorsy of states use kayakers and mountain climbers and bicyclists. One exceptionally pregnant woman — “About to pop” reads the description below her name — also testifies to the necessity of being insured.

The Colorado healthcare team released the social media ads Tuesday; no one yet knows whether they have made a splash, though that was certainly the point.

“We were really trying to come up with something fun and creative that would cut through the clutter on social media and create awareness,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.


“We wanted to inject a little bit of humor and have it be fun and have it catch some attention — and sometimes you have to push the envelope a little bit to do that. The idea is really to help those populations realize they have some options.”

The population in question is young, healthy adults, who historically have low rates of insurance coverage because they either don’t make enough money to pay for it or believe that they don’t need it. But the success of Obamacare is premised on signing up young people in order to create large pools of insureds, thus bringing down costs for older, less healthy groups.

The “Mom” reference in one of the bro ads is no accident either — mothers also are a targeted audience, since they are in a position to get coverage for their families and to nag, if necessary, their older offspring to do it themselves. Under the law, children can stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26 but they are free, as well, to find insurance of their own.

Oregon, too, has gone for quirkiness in selling its version of the healthcare plan, with two sing-along videos drawing attention to insurance. Sort of.


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“Long live our Oregon spirit, long live the Oregon way,” says one, a folk-ish piece. “To care for each one, every daughter and son, live long Oregon.”

The other, with vaguely Sgt. Pepper-ish artwork, hits the same note in a song destined to stick in your head, like it or not.

“We fly with our own wings, dreaming all the big dreams,” the singer sings. “Long long live Oregonians, we’re free to be healthy.”



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Twitter: @cathleendecker