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Illinois Taps Chicago-Based Onion For Obamacare Marketing

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Illinois, long ranked among states in the worst fiscal condition, recently announced it will spend between $150,000 and $300,000 on an ad campaign to promote Obamacare in The Onion, an online newspaper that uses satirical humor to make political points in a fashion similar to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  The Onion often targets President Barack Obama’s health laws for its humorous articles.

“Man Without Health Insurance is Forced to Sell Action Figures to Pay Medical Bills.”

Under terms of the agreement, the state will pay Chicago-based Onion Inc. to create and distribute online banner ads, a video, an editorial and a custom news section that will feature Get Covered Illinois, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.  The report says headlines being mulled for the campaign include “Recently Insured Man Can’t Wait To Get Out There, Start Seriously Injuring Himself,” and “Man Without Health Insurance is Forced to Sell Action Figures to Pay Medical Bills.”

The Onion: Humor is the great equalizer

Kelly Leonard, executive vice president at The Second City, the Chicago satire factory that also has a division that works with corporate clients on marketing and messaging, was quoted in the report saying Illinois’ decision to tap the satirical humorists at The Onion was a savvy move by the state. “Humor is the great equalizer. It’s a great way to deal with difficult and taboo subjects,” Leonard was quoted as saying. “I think it’s brave and potentially will be quite effective. Funny works. It is a wonderful way to have political discourse and a very potent way to send a message.”

Second city link

The Second City partners with The Onion on a number of projects but it is not involved in the Get Covered Illinois campaign, the report noted.  Illinois completed the deal through its $33 million contract signed last year with FleishmanHillard to market and promote its exchange, which is operated in a partnership with the federal government at HealthCare.gov.

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