The Obama Administration is running an ad campaign designed to get people to sign up for health insurance. Many of the ads target young people — the so-called “Young Invincibles” who are healthy and whose participation in the health insurance exchanges is viewed as crucial to the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
One of the ads geared toward young people has provoked a lot of comment. It features a 20-something guy sitting on a coach. He’s wearing one-piece red and black plaid flannel pajamas and drinking a cup of cocoa — likely with a few marshmallows tossed in. He’s also got a distinctive, raised eyebrow and smirk look on his face. The ad’s tag line says: “Wear pajamas. Drink hot chocolate. Talk about getting health insurance. #GetTalking barackobama.com/talk”
It’s the kind of ad that immediately provokes questions and cries out for invention of a back story. Seriously, do young men really wear one-piece plaid pjs these days? (And by the way, do those pajamas have feet?) It’s not a good look, frankly, and most guys know it. Even Ralphie on A Christmas Story refused to don the pink bunny suit pjs until his Mom put her foot down — did Pajama Boy put on the checked pjs willingly? Did he get them as a gift from Great Aunt Claire, or, god forbid, did he go out and buy them himself?
Where is Pajama Boy supposed to be? Does he live with his parents? Did he get the cup of cocoa from Mom, or does he regularly lounge around his own place in plaid pjs drinking hot chocolate? Who is he talking to? He looks like an insufferable know-it-all — could he be lecturing his parents about how they should foot the bill for him to get covered by one of those costly “gold” plans? Or, is the raised eyebrow his sad approximation of a “come hither” look? Does this pathetic, misguided wretch actually think a pajama-clad discussion of health insurance over hot chocolate might help him get lucky in the romantic area?
The first goal of any ad campaign is to get people to remember the ad, and the next goal is to get people talking about it. The Pajama Boy ad obviously has accomplished both of those goals. (Google “pajama boy” if you don’t believe me.) Maybe the Pajama Boy ad is supposed to be one of those ironic commentaries that will have laser-like appeal for the Young Invincibles. Maybe . . . but I doubt it. I’m guessing that more people will think there’s something sad and bizarre and off-putting about the whole ad.