Pete Holmes is a very talented guy. He is an actor, a writer, and stand-up comedian who draws cartoons for the New Yorker magazine. Though you may not know his name, you know his voice. Pete is the voice of that urbane pint-size hipster known as the E*Trade baby.
As ubiquitous as those commercials are today, the agency that created the campaign (Grey New York) wasn’t sure it would be a winner. According to Tor Myrhen, Grey’s chief creative officer, they wondered if it was “the dumbest thing we’d ever done or if it was genius.”
“I had just come to New York, and this was my big chance — here’s the first big Super Bowl spot for my agency — and it was a talking baby, which had been done a million times,” he said. “It was scary.”
It wasn’t scary for long, though. The day after the Giants stunned the Patriots, the company registered more new accounts than on any other day in the company’s history. The commercials are still helping bring customers to the company, and everyone seems to have their favorite.
What Your Peers Are Reading
Some like the commercial where the baby says, “Apparently, riding the dog like a small horse is frowned upon in this establishment.” He is being punished — but is still perusing his accounts on an iPad. When mom takes the iPad, he pulls out his smartphone with an E*Trade app.
Other friends tell me they like the commercial where the baby is on an airplane, dealing with his freaked out baby friend a few rows back in the cabin. In our house, the favorite is the spot with the baby watching a (grown-up) friend trying to secure his retirement by scratching off lottery tickets. When the friend doesn’t win, the baby is unsurprised and sarcastically says, “Let me show you my shocked face!” He then slides down in his high chair and has a faux freak out.
I’ve been thinking about adopting that same “shocked face” for friends, fellow citizens and pundits who are suddenly coming to the awful realization that they have been hoodwinked by the rhetoric surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Just like the E*Trade baby who knew the lottery ticket investing approach was folly, many benefits professionals tried to warn about the implications (intended and unintended) of what was to come from the government’s takeover of health care delivery and “insurance.”
The most rudimentary place to start was our admonition that insurance was not about paying claims but about transferring risk across a broad population in a predictable and actuarially sound manner. The run-up to PPACA was characterized as a health care debate — when, in fact, it was not, in the end, about health care, nor was it a debate.
“If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. No one will take it away. No matter what.” If we had a nickel for every time President Obama said this, we could probably make a sizeable dent in the national debt. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but we now know that the statement will, in the end, be an empty promise. According to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office, PPACA will erode the current employer-based system and force as many as 7 million into government-proscribed plans.