Oliver ranted against the state on Sunday's premiere of "Last Week Tonight" for spending a quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer funds on a website that failed to sign up a single person for health coverage. Since a portion of that money went to advertising the web portal, Oliver brought in indie signer Lisa Loeb to film a parody of one particular "violently adorable" ad.
Maybe it was the backdrop reading "you fucking idiots" that put the company responsible for the ad over the edge. Mark Ray, the co-owner and creative director of Portland-based ad agency North, posted an online response to Oliver Wednesday titled "Yes, John Oliver, We Are Stupid Fucking Idiots."
Ray wondered whether it was unjust that his ad agency was linked to Cover Oregon's failure, "given that we have had nothing whatsoever to do with the $200m+ dollars spent to build Cover Oregon’s online application portal."
He then argued Oliver was right to expose the costs behind the state's hobbled health care exchange and indulged in a modicum of self-pity: "Unfortunately for us, our passionate, hard, honest work will forever be associated with a broken website."
Ray concluded by reclaiming Oliver's "stupid fucking idiot" banner:
Given the world today, you have to be a stupid fucking idiot to want to help activate a legislation so controversial. You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to suggest a strategy that unites people around a common good before selling them on something as complicated as health insurance. You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to think advertising can actually help improve the quality of people’s lives. But at North, we welcome stupid fucking idiots. And I’d do it all again just the same, proudly. Although, next time I’d probably leave the website out of the ads.
According to Willamette Week, Cover Oregon issued a $9.9 million tax-payer funded contract to North to advertise the state-based exchange. That contract was later increased to $21.4 million in order to produce more ads, according to the Portland weekly.
A Google search for "stupid fucking idiots" now brings up multiple references to the ad agency.
Image via YouTube/Cover Oregon
This post has been updated.