Conservatives Are Getting Trolled by Pajama Boy
A few days ago, Organizing for Action unleashed a new ad for Obamacare, featuring a slender young man in hipster glasses drinking a hot beverage in what looks like a plaid onesie. The copy read: "Wear pajamas. Drink hot chocolate. Talk about getting health insurance." Conservative outlets responded, predictably enough, with a flood of stories about "Pajama Boy," and his fulfillment of every absurd conservative stereotype of liberals.
There's an obvious reason for that: The purpose of Pajama Boy is not to get people to buy health insurance, but to get a rise out of conservatives -- and thereby to engage the solidaristic, money-raising, meme-spreading power of OFA's liberal base.
Here's the tell: Pajama Boy is not a good ad. Whatever you think about progressives, they are in most ways perfectly normal people. Normal people do not, at the age of 26 or so, want to spend their holiday in footy pajamas, listening to their parents harangue them about fiscal responsibility. Good ads usually do one of three things: they make you want to be more like the person in the ad; they make you want to date the person in the ad; or they engage you and the maker of the ad as knowing co-conspirators in laughing at that terrible person in the ad, whom you are not at all like in any way.
Who is going to look at this ad and aspire to be more like Pajama Boy? Or to date a man more like Pajama Boy . . . you know, the kind of guy you can bring home to Mom to talk about buying health insurance? But I don't think we're supposed to reject Pajama Boy either.
Maybe this ad is going to rope in a few liberal parents who wish their sweetie would get back into his flannel PJs and drink cocoa while Mommy tells him what to do . . . but no, this is just not a good ad. Anyone whom it would convince is the sort of person who has had an Obamacare countdown calendar on her desk for three years now and checks Healthcare.gov with a mechanical frequency only usually found in lab rats who can get illegal drugs by pressing a lever.
So, why was this ad made? Well, Pajama Boy doesn't seem well designed to get people to sign up for health insurance. But it seems tailor-made to get conservatives talking about Pajama Boy. And naturally, once they did, liberals jumped in to defend what is, objectively, a pretty stupid advertisement. Suddenly, lots of people love Pajama Boy -- the sort of people who give money to OFA and retweet their ads for Obamacare.
Conservatives, you're getting trolled. And remember: Smokey the Bear says that only you can prevent flame wars.
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Megan McArdle at firstname.lastname@example.org