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Allen Adamson


Aflac Reimagines Its Iconic Duck

As urban advertising legend goes, struggling to come up with a concept to make a relatively obscure insurance company’s name memorable, an art director on the account stumbled on an idea while walking around Central Park. Uttering “Aflac, Aflac,” he realized the company’s name sounded like a duck’s quack.


It was almost 20 years ago that the Aflac duck appeared on the scene in his first commercial “Park Bench.” Since then, the Aflac duck has become an international advertising icon. One of the industry’s biggest success stories, the Aflac name is recognized by 93% of American consumers. The American Family Life Assurance Company used a brilliant tactical branding signal – a mnemonic device – to help build awareness of not just its name, but to differentiate itself within the insurance category. Over the years the Aflac duck has made loud and clear that the company provides financial assistance to families when a medical situation occurs.


Brilliantly leveraging consumer familiarity with both the duck and what consumers associate with the brand – support during challenging medical times – this fuzzy icon is now taking on a very special new role.


Intended to go way beyond bolstering name and product recognition, the tactical branding asset is being repurposed as an emotional branding asset. It is being used to make this insurance company memorable for a reason more resonant than for just its name. Specifically, the Aflac duck has been transformed into an animatronic toy – My Special Aflac Duck, created to provide help and comfort to kids going through cancer treatment.


This gesture is in perfect alignment with the company’s decades-long philanthropic commitment to cancer research. From a branding perspective, this very touchable, huggable reimagining of the Aflac duck was conceived to help connect the brand to consumers on a deeper, more emotional level in a wholly authentic way, a critical factor for success in today’s marketplace. Aflac’s long-standing involvement in children’s cancer research genuinely underscores the authenticity of this branding initiative.


This article originally appeared in Forbes.

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