For $130,000, Maryland health officials are getting the word out on health reform to Ravens fans listening to the radio or visiting the team website. To catch the promotions in the stadium, though, don’t blink.
Maryland Health Connection, the insurance marketplace created as part of federal health reform, is being featured in dozens of 30-second radio commercials, including one apiece on WBAL Radio and 98 Rock during each game broadcast. Others air during pre- and post-game coverage, and the marketplace is the title sponsor of a Wednesday night Ravens news show on WBAL.
But Ravens fans watching on TV won’t see any Maryland Health Connection promotions on game day – only during the Friday night “Ravens Report” program that airs on WBAL Plus, an extra digital channel of WBAL-TV, and on Comcast SportsNet.
As for those cheering on the team in person, 30-second promotions were set to appear on LED video boards at M&T Bank Stadium twice during two home games, under an agreement between the Ravens and Maryland Health Connection.
The agreement was released in response to a public information act request from watchdog group Judicial Watch. The group posted a blurb on the agreement, titled “Super Bowl Champs Get $130,000 to Promote Obamacare”, to its “Corruption Chronicles” blog. While the group did not criticize the deal explicitly, its coverage riled some conservatives who oppose federal health reform and emphasized that the NFL declined to participate in promotion of the reforms.
The agreement also places Maryland Health Connection’s logo and a link to its website on various pages on the Ravens’ website, with a guaranteed total of 6 million “impressions”, the online advertising industry term for each instance an ad is served. The marketplace also gets promotions in three team e-newsletters, on the team’s Facebook page for a two-week campaign, and in five tweets from the team’s @RavensPromos Twitter account.
The Ravens partnership was touted as a key piece of an advertising campaign for the marketplace unveiled last month and meanwhile airing elsewhere on radio and TV programming, websites and transit. The campaign intends to boost enrollment in insurance plans offered through the marketplace, which has been slowed by technical glitches in online signup. More than 3,100 families had enrolled in coverage through Maryland Health Connection as of Wednesday, health officials said Friday.
Incidentally, Judicial Watch’s public information act request also revealed that the Ravens weren’t able to make good on one (non-contractual) element of their partnership – the team’s mascot, Poe, was slated to appear for photographers and TV cameras at the press event unveiling the ad campaign but arrived as it was wrapping up because of traffic delays on Interstate 97.