Exchange Unveils TV Ad Campaign

Covered California pulled back the curtain on its initial television advertising campaign yesterday, unveiling ads that will hit three selected markets starting next week.

The preliminary ads are scheduled to air starting Tuesday in San Diego, Sacramento and the Chico/Redding area, exchange officials said. Those test markets will lead up to a full-scale, statewide media blitz starting in October, according to Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California.

“We’re going to have radio ads, television, print, digital and social media, so we’ll be hitting the airwaves full blast in October,” Lee said, “so people can learn about how they can get coverage that’s meaningful and affordable.”

The first wave of TV ads are more for “branding,” or introducing the Covered California concept to people throughout the state. A recent Field Poll found that 75% of voters under age 65 had little or no knowledge about the Covered California health benefit exchange. Lee said he hopes the branding campaign will change that.

“We’re at a starting line,” Lee said. Eventually, he said, “we’re looking at enrolling 70% of those [2.6 million] eligible for subsidies in the exchange.

We hope we blow the roof off that estimate. We want to enroll everyone.”

The first TV ads use road signs to get the “Welcome to Covered California” message across, starting with actual signs that say “Welcome to Salinas” and “Welcome to San Diego.” Next come fictional sign by the side of the road saying “Welcome to getting care” and then “Welcome to feeling at ease.”

The ad closes with the message exchange officials hope will stick in people’s minds: “Welcome to another state of health. Welcome to Covered California. We are your health insurance marketplace.”

“This is a big day,” said Diana Dooley, state Secretary of Health and Human Services. “On Jan. 1, lives will be better for millions of Californians. These ads illustrate [that].”

According to exchange estimates, about $45 million will be spent on the media campaign between September and March, then another $35 million for the following six months. An estimated 59% of that first wave of money will be spent on television ads, officials said.

The two preliminary commercials are in English and Spanish. “We will be reaching out in print in Mandarin to the Chinese community and [in other languages] to other communities, as well as reaching out to the LGBTQ community,” Lee said. “We want to plant the seed with everyone, so people know they need to find out more.”

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