Chadbercrombie and Glitch : The Failed PR Campaign of Obamacare

Get Covered cards handed out on the 16th street mall


The pro Obama media are so desperate for an Obamacare success story that they were willing to run with one that was completely fabricated. Since the Chad Henderson debacle, news outlets loyal to Obama are being forced to report that’s failures are simply not a few stylistic glitches, but fundamental flaws in how the system was constructed. Upon the public launch of the non functioning, swarms of well cut, naked models took to the streets handing out flyers in downtown Denver, Colorado. Shirtless young and handsome young men and women hovered around the 16th Street Mall greeting pedestrians with signs around their neck.

Did they know what they were selling? Were they well versed on the exchanges and the different in plans and premiums? Did they know if the website even worked?

Who cares! Look how hot they are!

Team Obama is attempting to run a very painful, difficult, uninteresting healthcare system like a Calvin Klein ad campaign. They believe the same “Great Taste, Less Filling” marketing that carried a largely uncool, low substance orator to the highest office in the country will work to convince millions of people to happily accept the largest tax increase in history by looking really, really cool while doing it. The Obamacare PR haul is trying to recreate Oprah hyperventilating over Obama striding through the ocean.

The Obama administration has put a full Obamacare media blitz on with Hollywood celebrities and allies in the entertainment industry. But other than a few scattering of web ads has anyone seen these ads anywhere?

Has George Clooney dropped his SAG Union coverage for Obamacare?

In fact there isn’t one case of a Hollywood actor or actress who has dropped their union health plan for Obamacare. The PR campaign for this law is no different than Fergie getting paid just above scale to hold a Pepsi can while secretly having a refrigerator full of Coca Cola at home. The ultimate problem with selling Obamacare is?actors and musicians exist in a world of sensitive reputation representation. Actors are extremely self conscious about promoting products and associating their likeness and image with advertising. Ultimately even if Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt voted for Obama and support Obamacare, they aren’t going to cut a web ad or commercial over a website and a product that simply doesn’t work. These are decisions that can cost an artist millions in corporate sponsorship over their career.
Even administration officials, often treated as celebrities themselves by a panting media are pushing this law and getting in on the blitz. Kathleen Sebelius took to The Daily Show last night, fully clothed and playing HHS Used Car Salesman, trying to keep the pressure on Obamacare’s target audience. ?The sales pitch went south for her almost immediately when Jon Stewart began grilling her on the individual mandate and didn’t stop, ending the show by out right calling her a liar.

The product isn’t selling and it was most evident when Sebelius stated people “Could pay a fine” (as if a fine is something they have a choice on ) and the audience let out of an audible collective gasp /groan / laugh.

Even as Stewart practically begged Sebelius to give him a reason to support the “noble” idea of nationalized healthcare, the product itself is complete crap and he admitted the same to her face.

Obamacare was rolled out as a competitor of the private sector marketplace and the prevailing thought in the Obama Administration is that even though it’s being treated like shopping product, complete with ad campaigns and sales pitches, it should not be held to the same standard as say a smart phone or an automobile. Even Barack Obama compared it to Apple last week and this administration is using the same language businesses use to push their product. Exchange. Marketplace. Online shop. The PR team behind the Affordable Care Act is trying to sell nationalized healthcare like a can of Pepsi and it’s not working. As it turns out, people in this country actually demand explanations and accountability with things like our living health, not flashy magazine ads and videos.

As both spokesperson and celebrity, Barack Obama has largely been silent on his signature law since October 1st. Obama,tied up with the tasks of barricading memorials and large masses of land and sea, sits at a 43% approval rating and there isn’t a reputable marketing agency that would take a spokesperson with those kind of public numbers to pitch their signature product.

After an entire week it was becoming clear that a faulty website was preventing the slick ad campaign to take effect and besides preachy celebrities, there was no face of Obamacare like there was a Sandra Fluke with women’s “health” or Neil Heslin with Gun Control. There was no average person out there endorsing a must-have, easy-to-use product.

Enter Chad Henderson.

Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff sent out a tweet lamenting that she can’t find one successful enrollment at This had to set sirens off in the champagne rooms of the White House because within hours, she had one. Nevermind where he came from or who put fresh faced Chad Henderson in contact with Kliff.. The media and the Obama Administration had their face. Just like they had their face with Sandra Fluke.


Here he was..He was young, uninsured and was suddenly touting how easy was to navigate and enroll in. The glitches with the website were minor because, hey, here’s Chad doing it! Chad isn’t Kerry Washington or Zachary Quinto. He was every young adult that catapulted Barack Obama into the White House behind Instagram pictures and buzz slogans. He was the very definition of “Yes We Can”

Within hours, Chad Henderson’s story about successfully enrolling in Obamacare and the simplicity of it was all over web media and his Twitter feed. He was holding up his product on social media and showing everyone just how easy it all really was. His tale was told by Washington Post and passed around the usual beltway bukkake circles of DC media. They were all sharing Chad’s story or were begging for an interview themselves. Chad was the first born Obamacare celebrity. A meme in the making. Ridiculously Photogenic Socialized Medicine Guy.

And then it all started unraveling. Another glitch. contacted Chad’s father whom his son had said was also signed up for Obamacare. The father denied both accounts and within an hour Twitter had the story and Chad Henderson was forced to admit that he in fact did not enroll in Obamacare. He put up a valiantly dishonest defense, accusing the same media he was seeking out just a day earlier of twisting his words but within 24 hours, media celebrity Chad Henderson stopped responding to inquiries and locked his Twitter account down. His father who defended him deleted his twitter account altogether and Sarah Kliff tossed him and the story aside with zero apologies for her over eager and inexcusably bad research. Either she knew who exactly Chad Henderson was and didn’t care, or fails to understand researching a source as it relates to a journalist’s professional integrity.

The Chad Henderson story came apart the same way a PR campaign comes apart if say a model who says they don’t wear fur suddenly gets photographed in a mink coat. The national poster boy for Obamacare and media darling turned out to be a fraud and the media went silent on him. Even when Henderson’s story completely came undone, it was reported as “he may have lied” or “He felt he did nothing wrong”. ?Kliff was spinning another blow to her journalistic reputation. He became just a local Obamacare success story not worth covering anymore.

Henderson said he enrolled in Obamacare. He lied.

Henderson said he was not paid. He lied.

The Obamacare PR campaign, so important for the launch of any new product was a failure and poster child Chad, in the end, found as tedious as the rest of us.

Under normal circumstances, the general public could write Henderson and the novelty product he was selling off and be done with it until seeing it on a VH1 “I love the 20teens”. It’s not that simple with Obamacare. The product is forced upon us and we are penalized even if we choose not to buy it. Kathleen Sebelius on The Daily Show stated the logic being “In case something bad happens. Get a hit by a bus” The logic behind Sebelius’ account of mandating American citizens into buying something because an event “might happen” is frightening. It’s the equivalent of walking down the street and a police officer giving you a speeding ticket because hey, one day you’re probably going to be in a car and you’re going to break the speed limit. It’s an excuse to tax any citizen for almost anything.

Pay up.

There are very real consequences to this PR campaign failing beyond a device or gadget people decide they don’t want or need and won’t buy. In the first open enrollment week, the only confirmed numbers for Obamacare applications were estimated to be 52,000 started (not completed or enrolled, simply started). Giving the Administration the benefit of the doubt and assuming those applications were finished that means at this rate, at least 61,000 applications are needed DAILY to hit the number of enrollments needed to prevent an Obamacare solvency crisis when enrollment ends on March 31st, 2014. The death spiral economists are warning about. We are forced to estimate these numbers because the Obama Administration has made the decision to only release Obamacare enrollment numbers on a monthly basis. This of course is all assuming applications don’t taper off. It’s also assuming the website works. As of now Obamacare and enrollments are on track to be an economic catastrophe like this country has never seen. Most states estimates have enrollments under 1%. Maryland reported 326.

If Obamacare was to be judged on its merits as a product on the open market, it would rank somewhere between New Coke & Windows Vista but because it’s Government where the wonderful inefficiency of the Post Office and the DMV is rewarded, Obamacare will get a pass. Once again shovel ready isn’t as shovel ready as Smartest President in History thought.

Obamacare is the first signature marketing product in history where the company behind it is touting how successful it is based on how many people aren’t buying it. Over 7 million web hits to so it’s a success! Only in Government is this logic even remotely feasible. It’s the equivalent of 100 people going into The GAP but only 12 walking out with a sweater. Hey, people came in the store though right! The administration aided by their media is content to pass Obamacare off with a participation trophy. Chad Henderson and a gaggle of other shirtless studs I will also call Chads, in Denver, had good intentions and that’s all that really matters.

The media being who they are so desperate for an Obamacare success story that they were willing to run with one that was completely fabricated by the Obama Administration and it’s personal citizen cult. Since the Chad Henderson debacle, news outlets loyal to Obama are being forced to report that’s failures are simply not a few stylistic glitches, but fundamental flaws in how the system was constructed. Washington Post, NY Times, Huffington Post, Politico, The Daily Show and most recently USA Today are all noting the levels of technical incompetence. Chad ‘s smile was supposed to take care of all of that.

Chad Henderson was supposed to be the face of Obamacare and he is. Just not the way the Obama Administration had hoped.

In the end he can take some solace away from this experience. After all is said and done, he is still a better looking salesperson than this guy and as far as Barack Obama and his Pepsi Cola Presidency of style over substance goes, that’s supposed to be good enough.

The rest of us, not fooled by catchy slogans, jingles and paid actors posing as real customers should be demanding more.

– SM –



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