I need to say something about those awful Blue Cross Blue Shield commercials

There are two Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee commercials on fairly heavy rotation around these parts. These commercials are horrible. They have always rubbed me the wrong way and I have spent more time than is probably wise trying to figure out why.

I can’t seem to find clips of either ad, so I’ll attempt to describe them.

Commercial one
Mousy-looking blondish lady in glasses and pantsuit does voice-over about how when people come to her with questions, she needs answers, and doesn’t have time to go asking around at multiple companies. Then there’s a couple of scenes of her on the phone. One time, she says, “No you can’t expense your haircut!” and the other she says, “You’re not keeping the rental car, so who cares if it’s blue?!” Each time she uses a really bitchy voice. It’s the kind of voice that I might tolerate from a friend but I sure as hell would not want to hear from my company’s human resources rep. In fact, if an HR rep used that tone with me, I would file a complaint. With HR? Hmmm. Anyway, near the end of the ad, you see the lady walking with a smug grin past a young man who is looking at her like he is trying to flirt something fierce and she is deflecting those advances. It’s gross. “I need a company that can do it all. Kinda like me,” her voice says as she smirks. Even though all she’s done is throw out some mad bitchface over the phone.

My complaints about this commercial: The commercial presents itself as a serious take on issues that matter to insurance holders, yet you’ve go this extremely unpleasant woman sniping at people over the phone about completely ridiculous issues. Expensing a haircut? Is that supposed to be a freaking joke? Is this commercial about insurance — which is monstrously expensive and sometimes completely worthless — joking? I mean, I have BCBS of TN and I have gone round and round with them over the coverage of Holden’s birth. They finally rejected my third appeal in January — six months after I submitted it and three months after Holden was born — so that I finally have to accept that I must pay for my prenatal care and birth completely out of pocket since they refuse to cover my midwife in network (despite having covered her for someone else in Memphis with the exact coverage as I have). I mean, that would be a serious question an HR person might have to battle with BCBS about. But the color of rental cars? That is completely tone deaf. And I’ve already mentioned the lady’s tone and attitude. The commercial needs to decide if it’s trying to be funny or trying to be reassuring. Because right now it’s just being really annoying.

Commercial two
Long-faced brunette lady looks one bad day away from tying herself to the railroad tracks. Type on the screen tells us we’re at the home of a freelancer in Germantown. The lady tells us via voice-over that she has a full-time job and then she goes to work. We see footage of her feeding her three children. She says, “When I’m not thinking about presentations, I’m thinking about check-ups, glasses, and a health plan that gives me choices.” We cut to her driving her children around in a mini-van, and pleading with her son, “Please stop picking at that.” Ew. And then we cut to her saying into the camera, “If you don’t watch it, you could drown in a car pool.” The lady’s kids express their displeasure at something and she sighs heavily. I fully expect her to put a gun in her mouth at any moment.

My complaints about this commercial: Jesus, the first one was annoying but this one is just brutally depressing. This woman seems extremely stressed out, which is to be expected of a working (single?) mom with three kids. But she just seems completely devoid of all joy, like a smile has never cracked the veneer of her face. That’s bad enough but where I get really confused is when she asks her kid to stop picking at his arm. Is that some weird foreshadowing about how they are going to need to go to the ER with an infected arm? That’s not even the worst part. “If you don’t watch it, you could drown in a carpool.” WHAT?! That is fucking dark. The way she says it, you kind of get the feeling that she thinks a lot about Susan Smithing those kids. But here’s what I don’t get: She’s a freelancer. Do freelancers do a lot of carpooling? Or does she consider carting her kids around in her minivan a form of carpooling? Can you do that? Anyway, what does that meeeean?! Even if it means, “you can get bogged down,” it is a deliriously morose way to put it. But then again, this lady seems like a real fucking drag.

Take the two ads together (I never see any other BCBS ads around here so I have no additional context; can anyone in other markets add to this?) and you sort of get the impression that BCBS’ world is populated with really annoying working women — the smug type and the very sad type.

Am I the only one who completely loathes these ads? I think they strike a weird tone and transmit a message I’m uncomfortable with, even if I can’t even really tell you what it is. I was prepared to crown them both Failures of Advertising, but I’ve gone and written a blog post about them, so who gets the last laugh, really?

5 thoughts on “I need to say something about those awful Blue Cross Blue Shield commercials

  1. I’ve only seen the first one and I think it’s utter bullshit, too. The one complaint I have about the current healthcare act is that it requires insurance. NO. Make those fuckers turn non-profit, THEN require insurance. Better yet, fucking outlaw health insurance and just have a plan give access to healthcare to all people!

    I hate health insurance companies. They are the DEVIL and continue to take more money while providing less coverage.

  2. I seem to recall a commercial in the Buffalo area with the tagline, “Healthy changes everything…” but am now doubting whether it is for BCBS. Pretty sure it is. But what really chaps my ass is the fact that along the 190 through downtown, they use TWO-BILLBOARD ads. TWO. Every time I notice it I become angry and find myself wondering why they can’t just use one and save all that other money to, oh, I don’t know, cover medical expenses of their subscribers?

  3. Wow, I thought I was the only one who found them, especially the second commercial with the kids, annoying!! I don’t know which annoys me the most, the way the mother says “stop picking at that” or the whiny way the kid responds “its myyy arm” then 2 seconds later he whines again about the cookies mom has packed for his lunch “I don’t like these mommmm” Ugh!! I almost have to change the channel when this one comes on!! They both run in the Nashville market too. The lady about expensing the haircut and “who cares if your rental car is red” gets on my nerves too, but not as bad as the annoying lady with the annoying kid(s)!!! Glad to hear I’m not the only one…


  5. @Mack Actually You do asshole. Commerical Great?
    Now on to an intelligent conversation. thank you for this post. I also hate hate their ads. My first complaint is what does your stupid insurance do? The second one is I am sick and tired of hearing commercials where women are bragging about how hard they work because they are a mom. Well dont have kids. No one forced you too. So what you go to work who doesnt? I have for 19 years and I have been a single mom for 19 also. I dont sit around bragging about having two jobs. If it isnt that they are whining or bragging about how hard they work around the house. My job never ends. I would end it if that were my wife. With a boot to her butt. People doing what they are supposed to do and being responsible for their children is not a case to congratulate. It is just the right thing.

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