Wanda Sykes hosts the 'Pre-Pain Show' in Aflac March Madness campaign

The actor and comedian serves as Aflac's first LGBTQ+ woman of color to lead one of its campaigns as brand returns for the second year as tournament partner

Published On
Mar 04, 2022

Editor's Pick

Aflac returns for its second year as the official partner of NCAA’s March Madness tournament, but rather than focusing on shooting hoops, this campaign explores solutions for dealing with a painful oops.

The “Pre-Pain Show” is a playful spoof on sports commentators, featuring the return of Aflac’s duck mascot and actor Lil Rel Howery, along with comedy legend Wanda Sykes. In the campaign spots, people embarking on commonplace activities are the surprise participants in an ESPN-esque show when things go painfully awry. 

An innocent round of pinata turns violent when the batter’s weapon slips out of her hands and careens toward a nearby man texting on his phone. Seconds before the baseball bat makes contact, time freezes and Sykes, Howery and duck emerge behind a news anchor desk, surrounded by TV lights. 

Sykes and Howery exchange humorous remarks about how the living piñata could benefit from Aflac’s medical bill coverage as the mascot squeaks along. “Am I at least going to get hit hard enough to forget this?” the man wonders as the bat remains suspended inches from his face. “Nobody’s gonna forget this ever,” responds Sykes as time resumes and a crunching slam is heard offscreen.


Another spot shows a man taking a deadly risk by climbing a set of garage shelves to retrieve an item on top. As he reaches the peak, the entire unit topples over, sending the man flying with dumbbells and a toolkit trailing just behind him. Freeze: Aflac’s panel appears.

Howery suggests the man use the money he’ll save with Aflac’s bill coverage to buy a step stool for next time. “I have a step stool,” the frozen man says. “The stool’s on top of the shelf, isn’t it Paul,” Sykes cringes as a loud crash sends a stool bouncing into frame.

"Medical debt, health and wealth disparities don't discriminate,” said Sykes in a statement. “Many Americans are one step away from a medical incident that could easily lead to financial ruin. I am proud to partner with Aflac to shine a light on critical issues impacting communities across this country—and to serve as Aflac's first LGBTQ+ woman of color to anchor a national campaign. The 'Pre-Pain Show' represents a step forward in the movement to see all of the communities Aflac serves."

The “Pre-Pain Show” will air during games as well as on social, digital and on-site activations. The campaign will also see Aflac sponsor the inaugural HBCU All-Star game on April 3rd and feature extensions to offer educational resources for the coinciding Colon Cancer Awareness Month. The campaign will also promote Aflac’s CareGrants, a program that aims to award $1 million in medical debt relief to those in need.


Mar 04, 2022
Client :
Agency :
DDB-New York
Chief Creative Officer :
Mat Bisher
Executive Creative Director :
Paulo Junger
Group Creative Director :
Ross Saunders

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