Targeting that group, the Obama administration on Sept. 30 will debut its first online video created in partnership with the comedy website Funny or Die, which was started by the production company owned by comedians Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
Meanwhile, conservative groups that oppose the law have launched a variety of mostly online videos that range from sarcastic to spooky. One ad is from the not-for-profit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, affiliated with Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. The ad mocks Obamacare with terms designed to appeal to young millenials, warning that young, healthy people will end up paying premiums three times as high as before and have their job hours reduced to part time.
Jonathan Collegio, communications director for Crossroads GPS, said his group spent about $100,000 on ads during the summer. It was able to get lots of free media coverage by driving viral attention to its videos.
Generation Opportunity, which bills itself as a non-partisan youth advocacy organization but has financial ties to the billionaire conservative activist Koch brothers, released its own set of online ads this month as part of its $750,000 #OptOut campaign of ads and grass-roots activities. Dubbed the Creepy Uncle Sam ads, the two online spots depict a sinister-looking Uncle Sam slipping on surgical gloves and adjusting stirrups in a gynecological exam. “Don't let government play doctor,” the ads warn. “Opt out of Obamacare.”
Ron Pollack, executive director and vice president of Families USA, which supports the healthcare reform law, dismissed these ads. “The notion that Uncle Sam is looking at women's private parts during a gynecological exam is so absurd and ridiculous that I don't think these ads are going to be effective,” he said.
Still, the Uncle Sam ads have gone viral, garnering more than 3.5 million YouTube and Facebook views. And they could influence young, uninsured people already inclined to be skeptical about buying insurance on the exchanges. “The videos are clearly having an impact,” said David Pasch, Generation Opportunity's communications director.
Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden