In ministerial school, you are taught to talk to the people in the front row differently than those in the rear pew. Marketers call that knowing your audience and talking to them where they are at.
President Obama showed the deft touch of a marketer this week when he appeared on the online comedy show "Between the Ferns" to connect with young adults who are the program's main demographic.
Obama is trying to convince a larger number of young adults without health insurance to enroll for Obamacare. After his appearance on the mock celebrity interview show where he traded barbs with host Zach Galifianakis, the Obamacare website showed a spike in traffic.
The funny exchange also earned media coverage on national television and publications such as The New York Times, which may have the byproduct of coaxing older adults to check out the Obamacare website.
The enrollment deadline for Obamacare is March 31, so some may question why the President and his fellow supporters waited so long. The truth is, they have tried a lot of ideas – such as ads aimed at young adults. But that turned out largely to be a case of the right message in the wrong channel.
"Between the Ferns" is a smarter play to reach reluctant young enrollees. First off, the channel is online, which is the favored medium for many young adults. Second, the setting was a comedy show that provided entertainment, with a small dosage of messaging.
Galifianakis asked Obama why he doesn't want to run for a third term. Obama, who was identified on the show with the super "community organizer," said it wouldn't turn out any better than another "Hangover" movie sequel – the kind of comic reference young people would understand.
The Times reported, "When it came time for Mr. Obama to discuss health care, Mr. Galifianakis sighed wearily. 'Here we go, O.K. let's get this out of the way, what did you come here to plug?"
"When Mr. Obama asked him if he had of affordable health care, Mr. Galifianakis replied, 'That's the thing that doesn't work?" as contact information for the Obamacare website flashed on the screen.
The show got a big star to interview and the President got in a big plug where his target audience was paying attention. In politics, as well as in marketing, you can't ask for any more than that.