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Was Colorado’s Affordable Care Act Ad Sexist?

Are a new series of ObamaCare ads demeaning to women? A “Got Insurance?” ad released last week by the liberal ProgressNow Colorado and the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative shows a woman holding a packet of birth control pills and standing next to a man who has his arms around her waist.
“OMG, he’s hot! Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control,” reads the ad copy. “My health insurance covers the pill, which means all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers.”
Kelly Maher, a Republican strategist, said the new ad campaign was “demeaning” towards women and deflected major issues associated with the Affordable Care Act, including the issue of individual policy holders who were notified that their current insurance will not exist in 2014.
“This ad campaign is desperately trying to distract from the fact that exchange sign-ups have essentially ground to a halt,” said Maher in a statement. [The initiative is] belittling women with shallow sexual caricatures and making light of serious women’s health issues.”
Harsha Gangadharbatla, an associate professor of advertising at the University of Boulder, said the ads were problematic as a marketing tool because the comedic ad copy makes it unclear the the ad has serious intentions.
“I think it’s a strategic mistake. Consumers could see it as a joke, making it not appear to be a serious issue,” he said. “There’s already so many negative headlines an problematic issues out there with the rollout of ObamaCare, do why add fuel with ads like these, if the true intent is to enroll more people.

But others feel the light tone of the ad will do its job in helping to increase enrollment. “The whole intention of these ads is to raise awareness and that’s what we’re doing. It’s great that more and more people are talking about it,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. “We think this ad is really about healthy relationships and that people are taking control of their lives with healthcare.”

(Photo: ProgressNowColorado)

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