It's safe to say that Organizing for Action, the nonprofit closely aligned with the White House, and Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group largely financed by Charles and David Koch, have very little in common when it comes to health care. But when it comes to PR strategies, the two advocacy groups seem to be telepathically linked.
Organizing for Action (OFA) and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) unveiled new TV spots this week that push opposing positions on the president’s landmark health care legislation. And while the two commercials have starkly different messages, each relies on strikingly similar messengers to get their points across.
Take a look at Organizing for Action’s second spot in a seven-part series touting the Affordable Care Act’s benefits:
Here you see a mother, speaking directly to the camera, about how Obamacare will help pay for her child’s medical needs.
Now take a look at Americans for Prosperity’s commercial:
Once again, you see a mother, speaking directly to the camera, this time about how Obamacare will stand in the way of her child’s medical needs.
Levi Russell, director of public affairs at Americans for Prosperity, declined to comment on the agency that made his organization’s advertisement, but he did say to msnbc that the similarity between the two commercials was a “pretty amazing coincidence.”
“I know they’re not the same,” said Russell of the companies that worked with OFA and AFP on their ads. “But it’s pretty amazing how they turned out.”
The public relations war comes at a critical time for Obama’s health care initiative, even though three years have passed since it became law. In an apparent effort to undermine the legislation, several Republican governors have opted out of the law's Medicaid expansion. And last week, the White House said it would delay until 2015 its mandate that larger businesses provide health insurance for their employees.
According to the New York Times, that delay sent AFP's strategists back to the drawing board for its more than $1 million ad campaign. They are now trying to incorporate into their messaging the idea that even the Obama administration believes the law is flawed. And with the approaching Jan. 1 deadline, when a bulk of Obamacare's central provisions are due to take effect, OFA's strategists are likely feeling the pressure to stretch their seven-figure effort as far as possible. As Huffington Post's Sam Stein puts it, Democrats need these spots to both explain the legislation, and recruit participants once the main provisions are implemented.
But whatever the motivation behind the renewed PR push, its clear from these latest installments that both sides know the quickest way to America’s heart is through mom.