The Spot: Lame Duck

Aflac's iconic bird gets hurt, and goes silent, in the latest evolution of the insurer's campaign

IDEA: The Aflac duck, American advertising's finest feathered friend, is nothing without his distinctive squawk. Or is he? The bird, who's been quacking out the supplemental insurance company's name in ads from Publicis Kaplan Thaler since 1999, has suddenly gone quiet this year thanks to a plot twist in which he's fractured his beak and ended up in hospital—putting him in the position of the company's customers, who need bills paid when they get hurt and miss work. "The duck has become so well known and well liked. We wanted to find a new way to harness that affection," said agency executive creative director Jay Williams. "The thought came to us: The duck is a working actor. This is what he does. He's in commercials, and he talks about the brand. So, we thought there could be a humorous way to make the duck a metaphor for the people Aflac helps." Added Michael Zuna, Alfac's chief marketing and sales officer: "The new commercials will make viewers laugh, but they have a very serious message. If the Aflac duck can get hurt, anyone can get hurt. And that's why everyone needs Aflac."