How a pair of faux-rappers can raise enrollment numbers

I-V & De-Fib

Washington Healthplanfinder’s Sessions M.C.s, I-V and De-Fib, champion health care.

If you’re intrigued by the rappers in a fresh round of TV ads from Washington Healthplanfinder, sorry, don’t expect an album any time soon.

They’re fictitious. But like real rappers, they’re flashy and they draw attention. They’re meant to hook viewers — while also revealing true stories of Washington residents who’ve signed up for insurance.

“We knew we wanted to use real people and to show the tangible value of this health resource in Washington. But we wanted to avoid the typical government looking ad where someone is just talking about their experience,” said Bethany Frey, senior communications specialist for Healthplanfinder and Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

“We wanted to catch people’s attention, especially that younger audience who we need to keep attracting.”

Washington Healthplanfinder worked closely with its ad agency to develop a strategy appealing to 18-34-year-olds — those young adults who make up the largest portion of the uninsured. Research showed three things in particular resonate with this audience:

  • humor
  • brevity
  • music

“We were trying to reach a group that speaks in 140 characters,” Frey explains. And music also seemed a great unifier for Washington state.

The ads follow a duo with the wink-wink names of “I-V” and “De-Fib” (two actors) as they interview real Washingtonians who have enrolled in insurance via Healthplanfinder. The real people — Rian, Patricia and Jon — have stories that serve as source material for the rappers’ parody songs, “Baby Bird” and “Hospital Billz.”

Viewers see I-V as he coos into a mic stand that resembles a gilded I-V pole. De-Fib, with a golden defibrillator around his neck, drops random rhymes.

“It is meant to appeal to one demographic. We don’t expect everyone to get it,” explains Frey, acknowledging not everyone loves the ads.

They do seem to be working. Enrollment has been up 10 percent among 18-34-year-olds since the ads first aired. On YouTube, the videos have amassed over 10,000 views in only a few weeks.

By the numbers alone, they sound like a hit.

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