Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: HA Uses Laughs, Cute Kids, for ACA DRTV

A bespectacled boy in a sweater vest and a bow tie stands in front of a classroom of elementary school students who say they are confused about the Affordable Care Act. Pointing toward what he’s written in blue, pink and yellow chalk on the blackboard behind him, the “teacher” has a simple answer for all of the questions coming at him.

“HA!” he exclaims, using the acronym for Urbana, Ill.-based provider-sponsored health plan organization Health Alliance. “Health Alliance can help you figure it all out.”

From Oct. 1 until Dec. 15, 2013, the original individual plan open enrollment period for the ACA, HA ran this direct response television (DRTV) spot in Illinois to gain market share. During that time, HA generated 8,000 leads through 2,000 airings. Among those 8,000 leads, 14 percent converted to sales, says Dana Meek, the organization’s communications director.

Meek says HA ran the spot before testing it because of the rush after hiring Chesterbrook, Pa.-based direct response agency DMW Direct. Starting in May 2013, both entities had to get to know each other and produce the creative that went into the Illinois commercial. Then, while the ad was already performing well, the test revealed the creative core of the ad was fine.

HA just changed up some of the printed language to create a greater sense of urgency toward what had originally been the end of the enrollment period (the enrollment was later extended through March, and Meek says the commercial continued to air.) The commercial also now alerts viewers that government assistance may be available.

The direct response came through different trackable phone numbers viewers saw at the bottom of the ad, along with

“The response mechanism is [the] phone,” Meek says. “So it’s call-in. We used a different phone number for each station so that we could test where they were calling [from], what spots they were seeing … [DMW] would line that up with call times, based on run times for the spot.”

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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