Ben Affleck and a giant insurance company: recipe for pitching success?

Aflac duck on TVThis article is about a “boring” insurance giant creating some fun media placements out of thin air.

Aflac PR executives Laura Kane and Jon Sullivan have been my consulting clients for the past four years, so I’ve had a firsthand seat as they’ve scrapped to come up with new angles to pitch their company.

They’ve done a great job taking advantage of their famous quacking mascot, and they pulled it off again this past spring. Remember all the pre-Oscar buzz about Argo, the movie directed by Ben Affleck? As you do, some of you are being tempted right now to say “Affleck” in the voice of the Aflac Duck. That thought occurred to Laura and Jon, too.

With the help of their agency Fleishman Hillard, they put together a small campaign about their Duck cheering for Affleck.

A letter sent to media ostensibly from the Duck itself included these nuggets:

“. . . Aflac is rooting for Argo, directed by our phonetically favorite filmmaker, Ben Affleck . . .”

“We hope to soon be sending out a high-five to our hunky homonym.”

The mailing included a small plush Aflac Duck, which gave TV personalities something to hold up when they talked about the story on the air.

The effort landed coverage on (re-tweeted 147 times), Fox Business News (photo above), KABC in Los Angeles, and several other outlets.


As you know by now, the Duck was rewarded – Affleck’s film won Best Picture. And this campaign landed the Aflac PR team an honor of their own, a Bronze Anvil from PRSA. Congrats to Laura, Jon, and FH.

This article was originally published on May 1, 2014

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