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Pro-Healthcare Reform Ads Suffering an 'Identical Crisis'

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, August 12, 2009

In last week's column I wrote about anti-healthcare reform ad campaigns. And boy, did I get a lot of feedback. Many who commented on the column (Scare Tactics the Standard for Anti-Healthcare Reform Ads) and on the MarketShare blog agreed: Some anti-reform ads might be nasty and misleading, but they are effective.

This week, I watched a bevy of pro-healthcare reform ads. And if the anti-reform ads are rocky road, the pro-reform ads are vanilla.

Many (if not most) of the pro-reform ads use the testimonial style approach and hit upon the same themes using the same catch phrases with gloomy music playing in the background. The effect of this sameness is that there's no sense of wide-spread, bi-partisan support from a variety of different groups, organizations, and individuals.

Take, for example, a campaign from the pharmaceutical industry trade group, PhRMA, and the non-profit pro-reform group Families USA. It's a classic testimonial ad with seemingly unrehearsed stories from real people.

"When you lose your job, and you lose your healthcare, you feel hopeless."

"I'm not interested in a handout. I'm interested in healthcare coverage that I can afford for my family."

"My husband has a heart condition. And we can't afford for him to see a cardiologist."

The "It's Time" campaign from the Democratic National Committee is nearly indistinguishable, featuring the same tight head shots of ordinary folks telling their sad tales.

"When I lost my job, I lost my health insurance, too."

"My insurance company wouldn't fully cover me when I got sick."

"My father-in law walks with a limp, because he didn't have healthcare."

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