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Insurance Company Begins New Ad Campaign In The Face Of Health Reform

Trudy Lieberman Cigna launched a $25 million “GO YOU” national branding campaign last week signaling that they are gearing up for tons of new customers as health reform rolls towards 2014.   That new business will come from the millions of Americans now uninsured who will start getting government subsidies as an encouragement to buy health insurance coverage.  If those uninsured folks don’t get coverage, they will have tax penalties to pay.

No insurer wants to be left behind in this expanding marketplace, so Cigna, by being first out of the gate, hopes to build brand awareness that will ring bells in 2014 when consumers must buy insurance.  It’s a smart strategy.  One industry consultant says “most insurers have not built enough brand equity with consumers.”

Cigna’s ad campaign positions health insurance as a path to self-actualization, a concept from psychology that deals with a person’s motive and ability to realize his or her full potential.  Deftly sidestepping that there’s going to be a government mandate to have health insurance, one Cigna ad says:  “Deep inside you there’s a person who refuses to be kept deep inside you.”  Another asks: “When’s the last time you did something for the first time?”  Both are subtle pitches designed to nudge an uninsured person to buy coverage because they want to…not because they have to.

Cigna’s soft-sell website features colorful panels with soothing pictures designed to evoke pleasant memories: a wooly lamb, a yellow duck, a bowl of fruit, a mom and her baby, a box of carrots, a shoreline, a prize ribbon.  The health message is understated but clear.   Messages emphasize the individual—the “me” instead of the “we”.   Says one: “At Cigna we think being true to yourself is the first step to being truly healthy.”

There’s an opportunity for a Facebook chat that invites visitors to join the conversation by answering “What do you do to maintain your individuality?”  It’s also an opportunity for the company to get names of potential customers and obtain key information they can use to tailor messages that will prompt someone to buy their policies.  Unless you want to be a target for some future sales pitch, I suggest you beware of insurance company-sponsored chats.

Cigna’s “GO YOU” campaign is clever indeed.  The company has found a way to deflect the negatives associated with health reform — the mandate, the penalties, and the question of affordability.  Instead, it’s touchy-feely stuff that people will respond to positively and maybe just maybe encourage those people to press one of the blue panels on the website leading to the company’s insurance offerings.  What they will find when they get there is an overwhelming choice of plans with what seem like zillions of combinations of deductibles, coinsurance and out-of-pocket costs.  Borrowing from Cigna’s campaign…just think about it…if this was “your first time”…just how in the world would you know how to make a choice?

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

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