Aflac Looks for New Voice

Known for it’s strong social media presence, Aflac (and its trademark duck) recently entered some unfamiliar waters… hot water.

After making a number of insensitive cracks about the recent disaster in Japan, the voice of the Aflac duck was relieved of his duties.  As a result, the insurance company was in need of a new voice to represent its brand through the various social media platforms that it has been active on over the last several years.  However; what could have been a public relations disaster has been parlayed into a creative social campaign designed to find the next voice of the Aflac duck.

Aflac’s quick response to the situation distanced the brand from the opinions of  the its former spokesperson.  While incidents like these are unfortunate, the company’s deep involvement in social media allowed it to reach customers quickly to involve them in a search for a new voice.  This involvement has not only helped people forget about the recent comments, but will also undoubtedly lead to a voice that customers can resonate with.

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Aflac Quacks it’s Way to Social Media Success

Have you ever heard of the American Family Life Assurance Company?  A question that would likely be met with blank stares welcomes a completely different reaction when the company is referred to by its acronym, Aflac.

In 2008 Aflac’s revenues were $16.8 billion, a 44% increase from 2003 results.  The biggest reason for the company’s sudden success?  A campaign centred around an ‘Aflac’ quacking duck.   Click here for Daniel P. Amos’ (Aflac CEO) account of how he fell for the duck, featured in last month’s Harvard Business Review. The company’s improved brand awareness and name recognition has made them a leader in the two largest insurance markets in the world, the United States and Japan.

Aflac is a great example of a company that has leveraged the success of a traditional ad campaign through the effective use of social media integration.   As evidenced by demand for stuffed replicas of the Aflac duck following the release of the original ad campaign, the duck created a brand ambassador customers had developed a connection with. 

Aflac created a website that allowed people to rework the words the duck sings in its Japanese Aflac commercials.  In only 2 months, over 100,000 people had posted spoofs of the song online.  Today, the Aflac Duck has over 170,000 Facebook fans (I just became one).

Social media has allowed Aflac to further develop the personality of its star performer.  The duck has become more than just a part of an advertistement. He’s the face of the franchise.  Interested in knowing about some of the duck’s personal interests?   Facebook has the answer:

“I like watching funny videos on the internet, and hanging out. Food network- especially that Paula Deen. Listening to music. Acting in commercials. Pretty much, I’m living the dream. I would be into French food, but they use more duck than I’m comfortable with.”