Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox, were unveiled Sunday as the celebrities who will lead a media blitz to encourage more than a million Minnesotans to obtain health insurance through the state’s MNsure health care exchange that opens Oct. 1.

The campaign, titled “Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Reasons to Get Health Insurance,” will roll out Monday in newspapers, skyways, billboards and bus stops, said April Todd-Malmlov, at MNsure’s offices in St. Paul. Paul and his ox also will appear at MNsure’s State Fair booth and show up at community events and in television ads, online videos and social media in a few weeks, she said.

“We wanted a message that was upbeat and easy to understand,” said Brian Kroening, executive creative director of BBDO Proximity, the local ad agency behind the campaign. He showed reporters a video of ad excerpts. One video showed Paul water skiing off Lake Waconia and into a tree.

Kroening said Paul and Babe beat out two other characters, whom he wouldn’t name, in market research to be campaign stars. The Salter Mitchell survey firm found the legendary pair resonated with people in focus groups in six regions around the state, Kroening said.

The campaign is crucial to supporters of President Obama’s health care law. The new online marketplaces must attract young and healthy people to keep premiums low and cover the costs to insure those with expensive medical needs. Those same healthy customers will be courted by private insurance company advertisements.

BBDO Proximity, which was paid $9 million for marketing campaign this year, has its work cut out for it: Polls show that nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t understand Obamacare and nearly one in five doesn’t even realize it’s the law.

All U.S. residents will be required to have health insurance by Jan. 1. The state exchange offers an online market to shop and compare health coverage options and providers. Todd-Malmlov said MNsure is seeking to enroll about 1.3 million Minnesotans, including individuals who don’t get workplace coverage, workers at businesses with 50 or fewer employees and people covered by public programs.