Aflac quacks up quick commercial

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Aflac duck
Aflac duck Credit: Aflac via Youtube

It usually takes Aflac two to three months to produce a 30-second spot, but this weekend, they're narrowing that timeline down to 48 hours. Ahead of the Academy of Country Music Awards, the insurer plans to produce a commercial featuring musician Chris Young along with the recipient of the new Aflac ACM Lifting Lives Honor award. The spot, which will also feature Aflac's signature spokesduck, will air during Sunday's event and include footage from the weekend, including the announcement of the Lifting Lives honoree, a person prominent in the music-therapy industry.

Aflac worked with Dick Clark Productions, which produces the ACM Awards, on the new spot.

The new spot is part of a larger strategy recently introduced by Catherine Hernandez-Blades, a four-year veteran of the Columbus, Georgia-based brand who was promoted to chief brand and communications officer and senior VP last October. She's already initiated a review earlier this year of Aflac's creative agency, Publicis, which has held the business for several years.

Hernandez-Blades notes that she had charged Aflac's media agency, Spark Foundry, with doing more than just placing linear TV and online spots. Instead, Aflac should be "creating activations that are meaningful and relevant to the brand," she says.

Aflac has been an advocate of pediatric cancer for more than two decades, and has donated some $123 million to research and treatment, according to Hernandez-Blades, who notes that the new ACM award is a way to communicate some of Aflac's charitable work.

Aflac has narrowed its creative agency search to four agencies, one of which is Publicis. The company has worked with Spark Foundry for more than five years. The review should wrap up in July and new creative—still expected to include the duck—will debut this fall.

Aflac's sales increased 4.7 percent last year. According to Kantar Media, the company decreased its U.S. measured media investment by 9 percent compared with 2016 to $84.3 million.

As part of its charity work in health care, Aflac is also developing a smart robot duck that uses emojis and augmented reality to allow children with cancer to communicate their feelings. The ducks will roll out to hospitals in the U.S. this September and in Japan, where Aflac does 75 percent of its business, in 2021.

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