Covered California Spends $1.37 Million on PR Campaign Featuring Video of Richard Simmons Dancing

Covered California, the Golden State’s Obamacare exchange, spent $1.37 million on a recent marketing campaign that included a six-hour long live web stream featuring a dancing, gyrating Richard Simmons, Cal Watchdog reports. In the video, the famously flamboyant fitness guru takes part in a dance-off — at times rolling on the floor and hugging another dancer — while the host of the show chants phrases like “get covered” and “be flexible about your health-insurance options.”

The video originally aired on January 16 as part of Covered California’s “Tell a Friend — Get Covered” campaign, which cost $1.37 million, according to an exchange official, and features other celebrities such as Olivia Wilde and Tatyana Ali. The celebrities, the exchange says, were unpaid.

Republican state senator Ted Gaines, a candidate for state insurance commissioner, is seeking an audit of the exchange and has demanded that the exchange release detailed information about the cost of the campaign, the video, and all of the exchange’s PR efforts. “On first review, this long advertisement seems a wasteful, unserious and insulting effort, especially when viewed against the backdrop of at least a million Californians having their health coverage, coverage they liked and wished to keep, cancelled as a result of Covered California’s actions,” Gaines wrote in a letter to the exchange’s executive director, Peter Lee. “I question whether this is the time to pour tax dollars into what appears to be an ineffective and embarrassing quarter-day long marketing effort.”

Lee said that the webcast was directed at young people whom the exchange needs to sign up for health insurance. “Covered California’s programs such as Tell A Friend — Get Covered feature content that resonates among Millennials and that can be spread by millennials to their friends and loved ones,” he said in a statement. “Millennials are not only our key audience, they also are our ambassadors in spreading the word about Covered California.”

According to Cal Watchdog, Covered California will probably face a $78 million shortfall in the next year; its 2012–13 budget included $74 million for advertising and marketing.

Via Fox News.

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