Aflac Parts Ways With Fitzgerald

Interpublic Group’s Fitzgerald & Co. said it would no longer be working with insurance giant Aflac. The agency in Atlanta has handled media buying and planning chores for the client since 1990.

Aflac began a review of its advertising chores late last year via Santa Monica, Calif.-based consultancy Select Resources International. The main creative incumbent, Publicis Groupe unit The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York, which introduced the brand’s iconic duck mascot a decade ago, is not participating.

“We value our longstanding relationship with Aflac and wish them nothing but the best as we move in different directions,” said Dave Fitzgerald, agency CEO and president, in a statement. “I’m very proud of the work that has come out of our partnership.”

An Aflac rep said: “Fitzgerald & Co. has done some great work with Aflac. We wish them all the best and appreciate all they have done for us over the years.”

Moving forward with the selection process, “We are looking for a fully integrated agency that will enable us to increase our efficiencies,” the rep added.

Changes in client senior management precipitated the review.

The client last week launched a new campaign with creative provided by another roster shop, Omnicom’s Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, Fla. That work features an animated version of the duck, and the push tells consumers, “You don’t know quack.” In a break with its past strategy of relying mainly on traditional TV buys, this latest effort focuses more on the Web and integrated elements to deliver its message.

Aflac spent $76 million on domestic ads in 2008 and $60 million through the first 11 months of ’09, per Nielsen.