Content Marketing for Challenger Brands: Oscar’s Potent Prescription for Disrupting Healthcare

Avis’s 60s-era tagline “We try harder” perfectly sums up the mindset of a challenger brand like Oscar Health.

Oscar’s not just another early-stage startup; it’s a disruptive force rippling through the healthcare industry. Its competition: huge players like Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Aetna and pretty much any other insurer you can think of.

Founded in 2012, Oscar knows it’s not going to outspend “big insurance.” Instead, it’s turned to content marketing to help spread the word about how it’s upending the industry with its tech-first approach.

Oscar isn’t just using content marketing to convey their unique advantages though. They’re also using it to show the role they can play in people’s lives. When I ran creative teams at Razorfish and Digitas, I always encouraged my teams to focus on benefits over features. This is something that Oscar’s doing perfectly in this series of vignettes.

Not all of Oscar’s content has a sales-focus though. What’s below was created to help consumers better understand the Affordable Care Act. It covers the basics of insurance, what’s available thanks to the ACA, the high cost of inaction and when to enroll. It’s a nice affinity play. “Don’t have insurance? Get it from the guys who took the time to explain it to you.”

Though it breaks with the brand’s visual look, Oscar’s even created content that educates prospective customers on the company’s business model (perhaps the ultimate differentiation tactic). Over the course of five videos — later edited into a 20-minute supercut — CEO Mario Schlosser does a deep dive into how and why Oscar exists.

These and other marketing efforts have helped Oscar already capture about 15% of New York state’s healthcare market. And now that it’s expanding into other states, the company will likely see similar traction. Why? Because Oscar consistently acknowledges the frustrations we feel when using our insurance and continually reiterates their value prop of “fixing healthcare.”

In this David vs. Goliath battle, Oscar has chosen to use content marketing as its slingshot. It’s one of the savviest product marketing applications I’ve seen, too. Oscar’s found a way to sell its plans without it coming off as advertising. They created engaging — and often amusing — stories that show how their offering makes life better. In doing so, Oscar’s achieved the perfect balance between informative and entertaining. It’s something more upstart brands should do — and I expect they will.


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