2012 Bronze Effie Winner “The Search for the New Aflac Duck Voice”

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By using this site, you agree not to reproduce .... Members of the media community and the Duck's famous friends were also invited to either formally audition, or share an informal crack at the quack in social media, garnering additional ...

2012 Bronze Effie Winner

“The Search for the New Aflac Duck Voice” Category: Insurance Brand/Client: Aflac Lead Agency: The Kaplan Thaler Group Contributing Agencies: Digitas, MediaVest, Paine PR

Strategic Challenge Over a decade ago, when we came up with the idea to have a duck quack the name of an insurance company, Aflac’s brand awareness skyrocketed from a mere 10% to 93% virtually overnight. The quack heard ‘round the world immediately became a pop-culture phenomenon and the Aflac Duck campaign was inducted into Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame. But, after years of uninterrupted “Aflacs” and double-digit sales growth, the insurance company suddenly found itself facing a challenging landscape. The combined pressure of the economic downturn, healthcare reform and heightened competition began to take its toll. What’s more, the Aflac Duck, though still beloved, was no longer the newsmaker he once was. Business was declining. Then disaster strikes. In March 2011, Japan – home to 75% of the company’s business – was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Aflac CEO and Chairman Dan Amos immediately visited the country and pledged 100 million yen to assist with relief efforts. In the midst of this human tragedy, with its CEO on the ground comforting hundreds of affected employees and policy holders, Aflac was confronted with a crisis of another kind -- a marketing disaster. Effie® Awards 116 E. 27 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-687-3280 Fax: 212-557-9242 th

2012: The information available through effie.org is the property of the Effie Awards and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the Effie Awards.

The voice of the Duck for the past eleven years, tweeted a series of insensitive “jokes” about the crisis (we wouldn’t stoop to repeat them here). Of course, Aflac had no choice but to part ways with the voice of the duck on the spot and immediately put millions of dollars of marketing support on hold. It was the right thing to do, but it left our beloved Duck speechless for the first time in over 12 years. The Duck had lost the quack that was crucial to the brand’s identity and the brand’s future was hanging in the balance. Aflac risked losing its marketing presence and more importantly, the public’s trust. We had to be swift and smart to get the brand back in the market and at the same time avoid the huge potential for backlash from both the Japanese and American public. How do we go from laying an egg to turning it into a golden one? We realized that since the culture had created the Duck's popularity, we needed the help of the same people to save him. We hatched a plan within 24 hours of the twitter incident and asked the public to quack its heart out and audition to be the next voice of the Aflac Duck. Within 48 hours, our plan for the most unique job search ever was “live” and in-market.

Objectives The objectives for the Duck’s new voice search were manifold. Our team set immediate and concise goals in order to control the crisis and, in fact, turn a black eye into a beauty mark, or as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer stated, “Turn a gaffe into a gift.” Specifically, our objectives were as follows: 1. Control the crisis by keeping media and the public informed in real time, with transparency and consistency. 2. Create maximum positive impressions to maintain public trust about the tragedy’s impact on Aflac’s business without speculating. 3. Part ways with the voice of the Aflac Duck and devise a plan to find a replacement, ensuring that the public maintained their positive perception of and engagement with Aflac. 4. Generate public interest in becoming the new voice of the Aflac Duck to shift the conversation from the insensitive “jokes” to a wonderful opportunity for everyday people with an actual job posting at a time when unemployment was at record highs. 5. Restore the level of engagement between the public and the Duck to previous heights, with the Duck once again permeating pop-culture and opening the doors for the Aflac sales force.

Insight Since its inception, the Duck had been embraced and made famous by the people. A special relationship between the two had been forged over the past 11 years, one that could be uniquely leveraged. Anecdotally, for example, Aflac agents report that when they make a call to customers, people can’t say “Aflac” without quacking it. So, rather than conduct a traditional talent search and limiting our pool to actors and celebrities, we made a strategic decision, based on the insights, to turn to the American people, launching a nationwide search for the Duck’s new voice. Anyone over 18 was eligible to audition, either in person at casting calls, or online. Our efforts also capitalized on the fascination with reality TV and its promise that anyone from any background has the opportunity to become famous.

Effie® Awards 116 E. 27 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-687-3280 Fax: 212-557-9242 th

2012: The information available through effie.org is the property of the Effie Awards and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the Effie Awards.

The Big Idea Conduct a nationwide casting call to search for the new voice of the Aflac Duck.

Bringing the Idea to Life The fully integrated campaign to search for the Aflac Duck’s new voice was assembled in less than 48 hours. It was imperative that we act nimbly and react and fine-tune the campaign as it rolled out. We used data in real time to provide a constant stream of information about public sentiment, allowing for crucial flexibility. We impacted the news cycle at every turn, and publicized each stage of the search across all multiple platforms. On March 24, a press release formally announced the search for the Duck’s new voice, asking America to “answer the Duck’s call.” People were encouraged to either attend a live casting call at six locations across the country (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Austin and Atlanta) or apply and submit their audition online at Quackaflac.com, a microsite designed exclusively for this effort. Additionally, Aflac partnered with Monster.com to post this new job; the application called for someone “who embodies the spirit of caring and ethics that Aflac is known for,” as well as someone who has “Bilingual or trilingual skills (English with Duck and Spanish Duck)” and is “skilled at making people laugh.” Once again turning a negative into a positive, we took advantage of an existing media buy (a substantial one that could not be cancelled) and ran a modified version of the 2006 Aflac TV spot, “Silent Movie,” that conveniently featured a silent Duck. The spot was edited to drive viewers to the Duck’s Facebook page for more information on the search. Here, Facebook fans could watch a hilarious “Search for My Voice” video, as well as connect to the microsite. During this time, another release was issued reminding people of the April 1 online deadline. And the buzz surrounding the effort? It immediately became headline news with media outlets such as CNN, “The CBS Evening News,” Fortune, Newsweek, The New York Times and countless others all vying for coverage. With encouragement from Aflac and our connections in the entertainment world, the late night talk show circuit exploded with Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman answering the Duck’s call with humorous monologue quips including making Letterman’s famous “Top Ten” list. People across America quacked up a storm on-and-off line as soon as the search kicked off. Within 10 days, over 12,000 quackers of every shape, age and ilk submitted a video/audio application on the microsite including birds of a different feather (six parrots). The casting calls in all six selected cities were immediately booked. Members of the media community and the Duck’s famous friends were also invited to either formally audition, or share an informal crack at the quack in social media, garnering additional engagement with the search. Regular folks flocked in droves to unofficially audition on YouTube too. These videos in turn generated thousands of views themselves. And, just a month later on April 26, Aflac announced that the Duck had its quack back when one lucky duck, Dan McKeague, was plucked from obscurity. Dan – a married father of three from Hugo, Minnesota, and Sales Manager for local radio stations KQRS and Love 105 – was selected for his quack-tacular ability to convey in just one word how no insurance coverage is complete without Aflac. Dan, a victim of a devastating natural disaster himself – a tornado that destroyed his family’s home – was particularly proud to represent an insurance company.

Effie® Awards 116 E. 27 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-687-3280 Fax: 212-557-9242 th

2012: The information available through effie.org is the property of the Effie Awards and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the Effie Awards.

Aflac notified Dan with a phone call that was video-taped and then distributed to all online and offline outlets, ranging from traditional news wires to late night talk shows and from national to local media resulting in headline news once again. The video was also distributed via the Duck’s Facebook page, along with another video, “I Found My Voice,” a fun, 15-second recount of Dan’s selection. The Duck officially had his quack back and was ready to begin work immediately!

Communications Touch Points xTV xSpots

xInteractive

☐Retail Experience

☐Display Ads

☐POP ☐In-Store Video

☐Sponsorship

xWeb site xDigital video

☐Product placement

☐Video skins/bugs

☐Sales Promotion

☐Radio

xSocial Networking Sites

☐Retailtainment

☐Spots

☐Podcasts

xGuerrilla

☐Merchandising

☐Gaming

☐Street Teams

☐Program/content

☐Mobile

☐Tagging

☐Branded Content

☐In-Store Merchandizing

☐Other

☐Print

☐Wraps

☐Trade/Professional

☐Packaging

xBuzz Marketing

☐Newspaper - print

☐Product Design

☐Ambient Media

☐Newspaper - digital

☐Cinema

☐Sampling/Trial

☐Magazine - print

☐OOH

☐Magazine – digital

☐Airport

☐Custom Publication

☐Transit

xConsumer Involvement xWOM xConsumer Generated

☐Direct

☐Billboard

☐Viral

☐Mail

☐Place Based

☐Other

☐Email

☐Other

xPR

☐Trade Shows

☐Events

☐Sponsorship

Media Expenditures Sept 2010 – Aug 2011

☐Under $500 thousand

x$500 - 999 thousand ☐$1 - 2 million ☐$2 - 5 million ☐$5 - 10 million

YEAR PRIOR: Sept 2009 – Aug 2010 ☐ $10 - 20 million

☐Not Applicable

☐$10 - 20 million

☐$20 - 40 million

☐Under $500 thousand

☐$20 - 40 million

☐$40 – 60 million

x$500 - 999 thousand

☐$40 – 60 million

☐$60 – 80 million

☐$1 - 2 million

☐$60 – 80 million

☐$80 million and over

☐$2 - 5 million

☐$80 million and over

☐$5 - 10 million

Owned Media Sponsorship Not Applicable

Effie® Awards 116 E. 27 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-687-3280 Fax: 212-557-9242 th

2012: The information available through effie.org is the property of the Effie Awards and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the Effie Awards.

Additional Marketing Components: xNone ☐Pricing Changes ☐Couponing ☐Leveraging Distribution ☐Other (Please Explain)

Reach: National

Results How do you know it worked? The effort’s success surpassed all expectations, and the buzz around it soared to unprecedented heights. Americans loved the idea of the search and delivered for us big time with:  Over 99,000 jobs views on Monster.com  143,000 visits to the quackaflac.com website  12,371 “Quack-plicants” officially applied for the job online and through live auditions. Thousands more informally shared their “Aflac!” in social media.  The search generated over 70,000 media stories and over 900 million media impressions.  The Duck’s Twitter following increased 14.5%, Facebook fans increased 5%, and we achieved a 20% increase in traffic to aflac.com  Our efforts doubled positive brand and character social sentiment in six weeks (sentiment prior to the Duck losing his voice was running 3:1, sentiment during the search, new voice announcement, and after was 7:1)  During the height of the campaign, direct sales leads increased 80%, while payroll account leads were up 83% compared to 2010. And, after months of decline, Aflac realized a 13.5% increase in agent recruitment.  Brand tracking, as measured by Brand Index, was also impacted by the search, and “attention” peaked throughout this effort.

Effie® Awards 116 E. 27 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-687-3280 Fax: 212-557-9242 th

2012: The information available through effie.org is the property of the Effie Awards and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the Effie Awards.

Source: Agency and Aflac Research

Source: Brand Index: Attention

Key dates  March 14, 2011: Aflac parts ways with the voice of the duck  March 24, 2011: Search for new voice of Aflac Duck announced  March 31, 2011: Final call for online auditions  April 26, 2011: The Aflac Duck gets its quack back, Dan McKeague named new voice.

Why are these results significant? Today, not only does the Duck have his quack back, but the Aflac brand is positioned stronger than ever, with the company posting an increase in sales for the first time in over nine quarters. Not only has the Duck overcome a herculean challenge, but he’s now flying high: This effort was awarded a Cannes PR Lions, and Aflac’s commercial, “Pigeon Rap,” was voted by TBS as one of America’s Funniest Commercials for 2011. Clearly, the Duck is once again firmly nested in America’s pop-culture.

Effie® Awards 116 E. 27 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-687-3280 Fax: 212-557-9242 th

2012: The information available through effie.org is the property of the Effie Awards and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the Effie Awards.

Anything else going on that might have helped drive results? No other factors.

Effie® Awards 116 E. 27 St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016 Tel: 212-687-3280 Fax: 212-557-9242 th

2012: The information available through effie.org is the property of the Effie Awards and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the Effie Awards.

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