Martin Short Has a Dream About Lower-Cost Medicines for SingleCare Campaign; Lensed by Luca Fantini
December 22, 2021

by: Stephen Lepitak, Adweek

In recent times during the global pandemic, there has not been a great deal to laugh about and—when it comes to a serious subject such as healthcare—it’s not often a topic that entertains. Medicine discounter SingleCare, however, is leaning into the opportunity to engage audiences through laughter, partnering with Emmy and Tony award-winning actor and comedian Martin Short to promote its ability to offer discounts on over 10,000 prescriptions.

Coming over a year after the company ran another humorous campaign featuring Apocalypse Now actor Martin Sheen seemingly stalking the customers within a pharmacy, the latest ad is a-typical Martin Short in style and character. There’s a reason for that as the actor was involved in the development of the script during a short turn-around production.

The spot sees Short dream about how he can spread the word to Americans on the cost-saving benefits of the service, leading to several short skits that play out like a quick-fire comedy show.

Created alongside New York agency and content studio The Boathouse and directed by its founder Aram Rappaport, Short— currently enjoying success in Only Murders in the Building—was the first choice to feature, according to the brand. The actor had just completed shooting the first two episodes of the second season of the Hulu series, giving him some time to get involved in the campaign.

“I just found out about the company. I believed in it. And I thought, you know, if you’re going to represent something, it’s nice that you think it’s a pretty cool company and offers a lot of amazing benefits to people who can benefit from the enormous cost of medications,” Short explained to Adweek.

“Anything that can [help] the people who need to watch where every dime goes is massive,” he adds, highlighting the difference with his native country Canada’s healthcare system, which is largely state-funded. “SingleCare just presents an idea that says, ‘shop around and compare—you might be surprised.’”

The campaign was filmed just over two weeks ahead of its air date of December 27 and is still in the editing process. Short discussed his involvement, which was from an early stage—first consisting of conversations with Rappaport over Zoom to discuss his thoughts on what he could add to the script.

“It’s a combination because the client has important points to present that they want to get within the copy and then, by hiring me, you’re expecting it to be funny. And so, it’s a marriage of all that,” he continues, revealing that his entire involvement took around three weeks.

The shoot saw Short given license to improvise ideas and convey his thoughts, but he admits to being reined in by the director when something came across as “too extreme”.

The potential for SingleCare

Leading the marketing for SingleCare is its president and chief marketing officer Gaurav Misra, who explains that the platform is seeing the most success in targeting users through its app, gaining millions of customers across America. However, he adds that because it is also targeting an older demographic of over 50s, direct mail also proves a highly successful medium.

But the job is to continue to grow awareness through campaigns such as the latest spot.

“We believe the ceiling is pretty far away still, there’s probably five to 10 times left in terms of the number of consumers in the U.S. that could feasibly benefit from a product like this. We are hell-bent on getting this out there to those that it can affect the most,” he adds.

Gaurav admits that the category they are working within is a “serious one,” but he believes it is also one that can deliver “a feel-good factor” through the use of SingleCare, meaning that levity was key to the campaign’s tone.

“We also realize how powerful breaking through those very somber health messages that the ripple across our screens can be, and to actually get out of that and have people pay attention to something that hopefully can lift them. There’s nothing better than getting a bargain when you go to check out and, so, if you can get that lift, when you get to the counter on the medications you need, maybe it’ll make you feel just that tiny bit better,” continues Gaurav.

Delivering fun

Short explains that he tries to bring “joy” to every project he is involved in, whether it’s a movie, a play or an advertising campaign.

“Everything I do is fun,” he states. “You can’t control the end result. If you’re working on a movie and then you realize two weeks in the director’s an idiot and the film’s probably not going to be very good, then the only thing I can control is having fun on the set, giving him every choice he needs and [letting] him screw it up. I tend to work in happiness and joy, that is my best scenario to work in.”

So, does advertising has a duty to entertain? Short doesn’t feel he is the right person to answer that, but he does know that people “love to laugh.”

“It’s a natural state. They always said that during the ’30s. In the Depression, people loved to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing in a beautiful tuxedo and gown. I guess there’s an escape element. As Omicron takes over, for example, people still need to laugh. They can’t just watch the news and get depressed. So I think, in general, comedy’s always tremendous medicine, no matter what ails you.”

Director of Photogrpahy: Luca Fantini