Like any new product, the success of the new health insurance marketplace may rise or fall on how well it is marketed.
Few new products, however, have ever had such a confusing build-up to their unveiling. Whether you call it Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, Tuesday’s public rollout of the controversial initiative has been both hyped and hated.
In anticipation of the need to beat down a tidal wave of skepticism, the state is spending $33.4 million in federal dollars on a marketing and advertising contract with FleishmanHillard of St. Louis.
Last week, the state unveiled the official brand name for the new health insurance marketplace: “Get Covered Illinois.”
Cue in the music from “Mad Men.” Close your eyes and imagine men in smart-looking suits drinking highballs and talking about concepts designed to convince uninsured Illinoisans to investigate the program.
The state has bought into the “Get Covered” branding game.
“The name is both a call-to-action and a description of the service this marketplace expects to provide through Web, phone and personal interactions with customers beginning Oct. 1,” a news release announced Wednesday.
The brand and logo were developed by Chicago-based Downtown Partners, which was brought in as a subcontractor by Fleishman.
Joe Stuart, creative director of Downtown Partners, said the logo and title came after hundreds of conversations with citizens around the state.
“They wanted a straight-forward, clear approach to promoting the health marketplace, and wanted a strong visual component to the name,” Stuart said. “We wrapped the shape of the state of Illinois with a “C” to remind people of the marketplace mission to spread a “Culture of Coverage” in Illinois.
In addition, orange was chosen as the color palette because the color is “decidedly optimistic, representing the colors of sunrise.”
The release notes that the color was chosen after a focus group said Oct. 1 “felt like the ‘dawn’ of a new day for those uninsured.”
Orange also was the color of a cartoon python Gov. Pat Quinn used to illustrate how the state’s pension woes were squeezing out other parts of the state budget.
Squeezy wasn’t a big hit and he hasn’t been seen in a while.
You might also note that orange is associated with sunsets, which is what Republicans would like to happen to Obamacare.
Literally thousands of politicians passed through the old press room of the Capitol when it was located in the mezzanine between the second and third floors of the Illinois Statehouse.
President Barack Obama strolled through the warren of offices when he was still a state senator. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit.
The press corps last week moved back into the newly renovated west wing of the Capitol. The mezzanine is gone and the new ground zero for reporters is tucked away in a series of offices carved out of the brick and stone of the basement.
And it didn’t take long for a politician to sniff us out.
For the sake of marking history, it took DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan all of 26 hours to track down our location. Grogan, a Republican, is running for state treasurer and is now enshrined in history as the first politician to visit the newly renovated press room.
For the record, plenty of well-known non-politicians also visited the old press room, including Barry Manilow, Montel Williams, Bianca Jagger, Dick Gregory and Rockford’s finest, Rick Nielsen.
What’s in a name
Congratulations to state Rep. Frank Mautino who earlier this month won an annual award handed out by the state’s beer distributors association.
The award is given for outstanding contributions to the beer distribution industry. Mautino this year sponsored two pieces of legislation both signed by Gov. Quinn that were designed to strengthen the state’s beer distributing regulatory system.
It might be hard to decide where to place his name on the plaque, however.
The name of the award is the Richard A. Mautino Industry Service Award.
Indeed, the award was named after Mautino’s late father, who was vice president of a Spring Valley beer distributorship and a member of the Illinois General Assembly for nine terms.
“Like his father, he is a strong champion of the beer distribution business; his family has been in the business for over 100 years,” said Bill Olson, ABDI president.
Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee. net.