Washington Bureau

11.13.13

Inside the Controversial ‘Brosurance’ Obamacare Ads

Is signing up for Obamacare easier than a casual hookup? Some liberal activists encouraging young people to enroll with a new advertising campaign think so.

The makers of the “brosurance” pro-Obamacare ads are really trying to communicate about the heightened risks involved in drinking alcohol.

The full set of ads, which Business Insider described as “making the Internet cringe,” went live Tuesday and is already provoking a strong response. The campaign, a project of Colorado Consumer Health Care Initiative (CCHI) and Progress Now Colorado Education, two left-leaning groups in the Rocky Mountain State, is about trying to raise awareness of the Affordable Care Act. But the ads, which include pictures of guys doing keg stands and girls taking “shotskis,” have been drawing attention for their somewhat risqué content. 

Adam Fox, director of strategic communications for CCHI, defends the ads, saying they have multiple educational messages. “One of the primary audiences that we’re targeting is young adults and really trying to portray that there is risk involved in alcohol,” said Fox. He added: “Alcohol, as we all know, increases the risk of bad things happening and is kind of used to heighten the sense of risk that the images would portray.”

Fox dismissed those who are using the ads to mock Obamacare, saying there are “always going to be those people who try to twist what you’re doing towards their own purposes.” Instead he said he felt confident that the campaign is reaching “the population that we’re trying to communicate.” As an example, Fox cited “a friend of one of the guys in the keg stand picture,” who “got a message from someone in Hong Kong” about the ad.

The advertising campaign is focused solely on social media and is simply designed to “raise awareness about the new health-care option,” he said. No outside consultants were involved, he added. The advertisements were designed in-house, and the project did its own text and editing, hiring a photographer for the shoot but not professional models. Instead the campaign used “volunteers, friends, family members,” and others “willing to volunteer their time.” All of the models were sent a mockup of the ads for their approval, Fox said