GMMB Response to WRAP

Contact: Will Taliaferro,

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE)

Since 2015, GMMB has supported Maryland Health Benefit Exchange’s (MHBE) marketing and outreach efforts to enroll more Marylanders in health coverage through Maryland Health Connection, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

While every year presents new challenges and opportunities, we continue to remain nimble and creative as we craft campaigns with our shared goal in mind: reducing the uninsured population in Maryland. Heading into each annual Open Enrollment Period, we conduct qualitative or quantitative research to identify our audiences’ barriers and motivations to get coverage, and to test messaging. From there, we develop an integrated creative campaign, including digital banners, social media ads, print ads, billboards, TV and radio spots, and out-of-home options such as pharmacy kiosks, gas station screens, and signage on public transit. All assets are produced in English and Spanish.

To ensure our message penetrates with key audiences, particularly Black and Hispanic/Latino Marylanders, we center our campaign approach on community engagement. In coordination with local partners who specialize in reaching our target audiences, we disseminate our message via trusted voices including partnerships with faith leaders; organizations such as libraries, the NAACP, Boys and Girls Clubs, and YMCAs; consulates from key immigrant populations; micro-influencers; and freelancer and gig economy organizations.

Each year we see enrollment increases among our target audiences, including Black and Hispanic/Latino Marylanders, young adults, and underemployed single men. Maryland Health Connection has shown one of the country’s fastest growth rates for enrollment, reducing its uninsured rate to an all-time low of 6%.

Get Protected from the Unexpected

In 2022, we launched a new advertising campaign, “Get Protected from the Unexpected,” centered around the message that accidents happen and that health insurance through Maryland Health Connection can help protect you and your wallet. Informed by research, and after an extensive creative concepting process, advertising assets showed falls, sneezes, and other day-to-day mishaps.

Across our audiences, we found that affordability is often the biggest barrier to enrollment, but getting their health needs met is the biggest motivator. We applied these learnings to radio advertisements in English and Spanish by highlighting that Maryland Health Connection has low-cost, quality health plans that cover doctor visits, emergency care, mental health services, and more.

“Unexpected” Social Assets

“Sounds Painful” Radio Script and Advertisement

In 2022, the Open Enrollment period was slated to overlap with the World Cup — a unique opportunity because of the event’s non-traditional timing. As we developed the creative concepts, our team crafted a script that was first and foremost seeking to effectively reach the Hispanic/Latino community in Maryland. And although we also produced an English version of the same TV ad, the spot “Gol” was conceived as a Spanish-language commercial. We casted talent that would be representative of the largely Central American community in the state. And even worked with the wardrobe team to create a generic soccer jersey that mimicked the colors and style of Central American countries. The ad ran on Telemundo, Univision, and through Spanish-language digital placements. Partners shared they were excited to see the state invest in and take advantage of a culturally significant moment with targeted messaging. These efforts resulted in a 9% increase in Hispanic/Latino enrollment during the 2022 Open Enrollment period.

“Goal” – English-language Ad

“Gol” – Spanish-language Ad

That same year, we identified the return of Black Friday deals in brick-and-mortar malls following the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to spread awareness of MHC and Open Enrollment. A key target audience for our advertising is rural Marylanders. They are more likely to be uninsured and can be harder to reach because of limited internet access. We placed ads in Arundel Mills Mall, Hagerstown Premium Outlets, and Queenstown Premium Outlets. The out-of-home advertisements’ sheer size helped with campaign visibility. We highlighted the call-to-action in a yellow box to grab shoppers’ attention. We also included a QR code for those who wanted to directly access the website.

The playful nature of the ads aligned well with the festive holiday spirit. The ads reached shoppers but also those who worked at the mall, many of whom were seasonal workers without health insurance offered through their employer. We heard anecdotally that numerous mall employees reached out for more information about coverage options.

To further target specific audiences, we regularly engaged social media influencers to bridge the gap between MHC and various community segments. Influencers were chosen based on the size and demographics of their audience, aligning with the specific campaign message we want to promote. In 2022, we partnered with more than 20 influencers across Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram, WhatsApp, and many more channels. For example, to reach our target audience we worked with Geno Stone, a NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens, who shared an IG story with his 31k followers and recorded a :60s spot that aired on general radio markets across the state and AA radio. We also partnered with Washington Commanders player, Trai Turner, who also shared an IG story with his 66k followers and recorded a :60s spot that aired on general radio markets across the state and AA radio.