Aflac Realigns Marketing

NEW YORK Aflac has centralized its sales and strategic operations under its marketing department.

The company has also created a business-to-business marketing practice to begin outreach to corporations about its workplace disability insurance and other services.

The moves are the first major changes made by Jeff Herbert, who joined Columbus, Ga.-based Aflac as its first CMO in October 2006. Herbert had held executive positions at Zyman Group in Atlanta and at Coca-Cola.

Herbert said the changes would enable the sales, product marketing and channel marketing groups to become more consumer- and product-focused than before.

“It’s the first time the marketing and sales communication functions are working together as closely in the same group,” he explained. “It will help us to make marketing more relevant and important to our sales associates.”

Publicis Groupe’s The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York has handled Aflac’s advertising since 1999 and created the iconic duck that quacks the company name in commercials.

“Kaplan Thaler has been a partner for many years and will continue to be that for the main advertising in addition to other projects,” Herbert said. “But we’re also looking for agency partners who have expertise in Hispanic marketing, b-to-b and other disciplines as they become appropriate.”

Alfac spends about $75 million in U.S. media, with most of that going to television. But Herbert said he expects to allocate more dollars to print, outdoor and digital. He declined to comment on specific media spending.

WPP Group’s OgilvyOne has been the client’s digital agency for two years. Interpublic Group’s Fitzgerald + Co. in Atlanta handles Aflac’s U.S. media duties.

“The overriding aspect we’ve brought in is accountability among the sales force,” Herbert said of the reorganization. “Product groups will have targets to match with the field force and will use these marketing tools to try to achieve those goals.”