The Onion, the country's foremost satirical news site and purveyor of headlines like "Man Who Understands 8% of Obamacare Vigorously Defends It From Man Who Understands 5%," will team with the Illinois state government to run ads for the Affordable Care Act, in a bid to convince young, healthy Americans — without whom the health care plan doesn't work — to sign up for Obamacare.
Get Covered Illinois will run a number of banner ads on the site, in a $150,000 deal that also includes a video, an editorial, and custom news section through March 31, the extended Obamacare sign-up deadline. According to the Chicago Tribune, The Onion is giving the federal organization a 50 percent discount, granting it $300,000 worth of online promotional material.
Illinois is especially desperate to sign up young people, who make up 53 percent of the uninsured. The Onion, which moved its headquarters from New York City to Chicago in spring of 2012 and went fully digital late last year, is an obvious choice of partner for Get Covered. Kelly Leonard, executive vice president at Chicago's famed comedy club The Second City, explains to the Tribune, "Humor is the great equalizer. It’s a great way to deal with difficult and taboo subjects. I think it’s brave and potentially will be quite effective. Funny works.”
For conservatives, the jokes write themselves (pretty much every right-wing commentary on the partnership goes something like "joke site The Onion partners up with equally farcical site healthcare.gov"). But Obamacare has already run a series of humorous ads with site Funny or Die, featuring Jennifer Hudson in a Scandal spoof.
And this one features Billy Eichner and Olivia Wilde:
Onion CEO Steve Hannah also tells the Tribune he's excited about the partnership:
The comedy we produce is extremely funny and easy to share across social media outlets... The younger demographic … that the state is targeting makes up The Onion’s core audience. This demographic is extremely smart, and organizations need new and creative ways to reach them.
The Tribune reports that the ads will feature an action figure and be paired with headlines like "Recently Insured Man Can't Wait To Get Out There, Start Seriously Injuring Himself." We hope they more closely resemble "Sponsored Content Pretty Fucking Awesome," The Onion's (pretty spot on) take on embedded promotional content.