White House PR: Obama Appears on “Between Two Ferns”

by cindybrugge

As we approach the end of March 2014, the time has come where insurance will no longer be a luxury – but a requirement. For many Americans, especially young ones,  this option seems somewhat unattainable. However, after March 31st, it will become illegal to live without health insurance.  While quite a few will knowingly fly against the rules and continue onward, insurance free, many others are not aware of the realities of this law or the resources that the government has created for their use. For this reason, President Barack Obama made an appearance on Funny or Die’s show, “Between Two Ferns” hosted by Zach Galifinackis.


This talk show regularly interviews major celebrities; however, this was, fortunately, the first time that the leader of the free world made an appearance. The pair made an uncomfortable team, as they both played the straight face with cynical comments intended to be comical. Instead of reading as funny, the effect was discomforting and awkward. Then, Obama went on his spiel about healthcare, but almost seemed to be drilling his points down as fast as possible. Personally, I found the entire thing a tad off-putting.

Most of the time that we see a celebrity on a talk show, they have been sent there by a public relations representative to promote a product. Musicians laugh and chat about their new album, while talking about funny experiences they’ve had in the DMV or pet strore. That’s why Brad Pitt even makes time for talk show hosts. He’s there because he agreed to promote his new movie when he signed the contract. Apparently, the White House had the same intentions.

Obama can talk all day about the new healthcare bill on C-SPAN, but if he wants anyone under the age of 55 to hear about it, then he needs to try a different approach. average American in a medium that they will actually receive it. By sending him to Funny or Die, the White House was more likely to reach the average young adult male in a medium that they will actually receive it.

In fact a poll by YouGov showed that 25 percent of people ages 18-29 have seen Obama’s “Between Two Ferns” video. There were mixed reactions about whether or not he should have appeared on the video. 26 percent of that age range said in the poll that it was a waste of the government’s time that they should devote elsewhere, while about one third said that it an “effective way to promote the healthcare website to young Americans. 

Again, I didn’t find it entirely enjoyable, but it did make me curious about the website and the healthcare realities I will be facing once I graduate college and I can no longer depend on my parent’s healthcare. (Yay! Can’t wait for that day…. ) I visited the website, looked at my options and, if I needed to purchase insurance, I feel more comfortable making a educated decision.

All in all, I’d say that “Between Two Ferns” was a win for healthcare but not for Obama. I’d like to see him a little more friendly and funny, more like the way he acted on Ellen this week – still promoting a White House agenda, but smiling while he went about it.