Marketing/Communications Aflac Duck Campaign

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  • Published : November 18, 2012
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State of the Industry Paper
Aflac Duck Campaign

Introduction
One company which has had success over the last decade is American Family Life Assurance Company or more commonly known as Aflac (duck voice). Historically, Aflac was a pretty successful company but they were still missing that one piece to make them recognizable. That one thing the company needed was a face and they found it when they launched their Aflac Duck Campaign. In this paper, the Duck campaign strategy will be discussed along with the history of Aflac, target audience and competition of Aflac, and the successful outcome of the campaign. History

The American Family Life Assurance Company was founded in Columbus, Georgia by three brothers, John, Paul, and Bill Amos in 1955. Three years later, the company had their first big plan which was developing a cancer expense policy. Several years afterward, Aflac expanded by adding numerous diverse policies to cover accidents, dental, disability, hospital care, and other health events. In the 1960s, Aflac thrived on making presentations to companies with large groups of employees. Today, the overwhelming majority (96%) of Aflac’s policies are bought at work through a payroll-deduction basis. Later in the 1970s, Aflac continued its success by expanding into the Japan market. Aflac was only the third American company to sell insurance in Japan. This has proved to very successful since today, Japan is about three-quarters (75%) of the company’s revenue. Aflac continued to do well through the 1980s and into the 1990s and named a new CEO, Daniel Amos, in 1990. Under the newly appointed CEO, Aflac become a Fortune 100 best company to work in the United States in 2000. Overall the company had taken shape beautifully in its history. It was the largest provider of renewable insurance in the US and it was also the largest provider in Japan (History 2012). So what is the problem? Daniel Amos wanted to change one thing about his company and that was brand awareness. Despite the success, after initiating name awareness ad campaign in the United States Aflac the name recognition for Aflac came back at 2%. After various attempts to get the company recognized “The Duck” debuted on New Year’s Day in 2000 (Amos 2010). “The Duck”

“We had to do something dramatic,” stated Aflac CEO Daniel Amos in a Harvard Business Review (Amos 2010). In the late 1990s, Aflac began listening to agencies pitch ideas for new television advertisements. One agency, Kaplan Thaler Group, was in a meeting tossing around ideas and they themselves were having a tough time remembering the name of the company. Amos explains, “One day, one of them asked, ‘What’s the name of the account we’re pitching?’ A colleague replied, ‘It’s Aflac-Aflac-Aflac---Aflac.’ Someone said that he sounded like a duck, and the idea was born” (Amos 2010). During testing of the different advertisements, Kaplan Thaler ad scored 50% than what Aflac was previously doing. Amos liked that the commercial pointed fun at the company’s name (Amos 2010). When Daniel Amos tried explaining the ad to others they simply did not understand the reasoning behind it. The first Aflac Duck debuted on CNN on New Year’s Day in 2000 (Amos 2010). The bit ran four times an hour. From this point on the rest was history. The first day the commercial aired, Aflac had more visits to their website than the entire year before. Weeks later, the company was getting requests for stuffed animal versions of the duck (Amos 2010). Months later, Amos describes an event at Disney Studios that Aflac was sponsoring. “We didn’t know whether it would be a good idea to put ducks on all the tables…..I was just watching to see if ducks were left on the tables,” said Amos. This next encounter confirmed Amos had found what he had been looking for. “I spotted the head of Disney Studios with a bulge under his jacket. When I jokingly asked him what was going on, he said, ‘I want you to understand that Donald is always king...
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