President Obama has been making the rounds lately to plug the improved (translation: functional) healthcare.gov website. He’s been frequenting shows watched by the younger generation in an effort to get them to sign up before the March 31 deadline. He appeared on Colin Cowherd’s radio show and “Ellen” last Thursday, doing roughly 10 minute interviews on each. Those appearances didn’t raise a fuss, but some people were up in arms when the President appeared on the popular satirical web series “Between Two Ferns,” where Zach Galifianakis subjects his guests to insulting mock questions and they return fire accordingly. The criticism came immediately: it’s below the office; he shouldn’t mock himself.
Depending on your view of the office, that may be accurate. But that’s a matter of opinion. What isn’t a matter of opinion is the success of his appearance. Visits to healthcare.gov jumped to about 900,000–an increase of 40%–the day the video was posted. The White House tweeted that Funny or Die was the number one referrer that day.
President Obama did what you’re supposed to do as a marketer. He identified his target market (twenty-somethings and people in their early thirties) and went to their favorite medium on their favorite site. The flak he’s getting for it is secondary and, given the state of our politics, inevitable. You don’t have to agree with the methods to appreciate the success.