Remember when comedy host John Oliver kicked off his Sunday HBO show with some pointed jokes at the expense of failed health-insurance exchange Cover Oregon and its whimsical advertising campaign?
Oliver ran a parody of Cover Oregon's folksy sing-a-longs with a Lisa Loeb tune saluting "you stupid Oregon idiots," and everyone had a good laugh.
Well, not quite everyone.
The head of the Portland advertising agency that created the commercials for Cover Oregon shot back at Oliver with a blog rejoinder posted Wednesday.
Mark Ray, principal and chief creative officer for ad agency North, writes that it's unfair for Oliver to satirize the commercials just because they marketed a website that didn't work.
Commercials like the one with a crooning Laura Gibson "have had nothing whatsoever to do with the $200m+ dollars egregiously spent to build Cover Oregon’s online application portal," Ray writes.
"You may also think it’s unfair," Ray continues, "to single out that particular tv spot from the many different ads we created, this one made specifically to connect with mothers, the primary drivers of health care decisions in the family, and always meant to be but one part of a much bigger whole that would reach all Oregonians, regardless of income, ethnicity or geography."
Ray reserves his strongest outrage for Oliver's hand-painted sign reading "You Fucking Idiots." Ray writes:
Given the world today, you have to be a stupid fucking idiot to want to help activate a legislation so controversial.
You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to suggest a strategy that unites people around a common good before selling them on something as complicated as health insurance.
You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to think advertising can actually help improve the quality of people’s lives.
But at North, we welcome stupid fucking idiots. And I’d do it all again just the same, proudly.
Although, next time I’d probably leave the website out of the ads.
North received a $9.9 million taxpayer-funded contract for its advertising, which the state later increased to $21.4 million.