Americans (Sick and Well, Rich and Poor) Deserve Better (Pricing, Care and Answers)

The heath care debate is getting nasty. I suppose that happens when there’s a lot at stake. I could say something about the fraying of civic life in America, but that would be too obvious (and off point). So, let’s address advertising’s role in fomenting this civic unrest.
Here’s a hard-hitting ad from Americans for Prosperity:

Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times doesn’t like it. He’s sick of the right’s distortions, but his illness hasn’t robbed him of his sense of humor.

There are times when I want to quit being a progressive liberal, tear up my ACLU membership card and surrender my implanted mind-control chip through which I receive marching orders from Hugo Chavez. No matter the righteousness of the cause, liberal progressives cannot seem to get on top of any public policy debate, cannot seem to win any war of words — which is just weird because you have to assume there are many more English majors among liberals.

Neil further contends that “the insurance industry’s demagoguery is better and smarter than the reformists’ demagoguery.”
Neil finds the repurposed “Harry and Louise” ads totally inadequate, but he does see some promise in the following ad from Americans United for Change.

Neil likes the ad above because it has some bite. But class warfare isn’t the issue at hand. Well okay, it’s one of the issues, but a strategy for social change needs to inspire. Hating the rich might be real, but it’s not inspiring.
MoveOn doesn’t quite get it either. Take a look:

Cute is not the way to go here. Funeral directors don’t want people to die. Pretending that they do isn’t convincing, nor is it in particularly good taste.
I know 99% of all ads are shit (which is a sad tale for another day), but it seems that when it comes to advocacy work, 99.99% of the ads we see are hot stinking piles with flies buzzing.
Meanwhile, 47 million Americans have no health care coverage and even people with health care coverage are going broke trying to pay artificially high prices jacked up by Big Pharma, insurance companies and those who serve their interests in Washington.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.