How Would Don Draper Advertise an Exchange?

By Cate Bonacini

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from watching the last five seasons of Mad Men, it’s that beautifully crafted advertising and branding can make all the difference. A name, idea, song, or image can paint the picture of a successful product and resonate with people, or it can make something seem rather lackluster. It turns out that those of us thinking about exchanges are facing similar challenges these days. No, we’re not selling Utz potato chips or Mohawk Airlines, but we are selling the idea of health coverage.

What do the names Exchange, Health Information Exchange, or Health Connection bring to mind? Probably not a whole lot, unless you’re knee-deep in health reform implementation. And sometimes with all the complexities of implementation, it’s easy to forget that we speak a language few Americans understand. By next year, though, states will need to figure out which messages, brands, and catch phrases will best motivate people to not only want coverage, but also to take the right action steps to get enrolled.

Right now, many states are already grappling with questions like, “What’s the best name for our exchange?” “What should our logo look like?” “Who should the messengers in our advertising campaigns be?” “And where should our advertising go?” These may seem like easy questions, but it’s going to take a lot of public opinion research and hard work to make them Don Draper-worthy. So far, a lot of states have put out RFPs to hire firms to conduct the research, and some have already selected firms to carry them through this process.

Here at Enroll America, we are incredibly excited about this work, so we’ve created a new section of our website to serve as a clearinghouse of materials for branding and marketing. Eventually, we’ll also have our own public education research to share, which we’ll of course add to this mix. We encourage you to check it out, and let us know if you come across a resource we should add.


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