Deion Sanders and Nick Saban Face Another GOAT in Aflac College Football Spot

Exclusive: A 30-second ad brings back the Aflac Duck and Gap Goat

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The 2023-24 college football season is nearly upon us, and Aflac is bringing back some familiar faces in its new sports marketing creative.

Coaches Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and Nick Saban have reunited with the health insurance brand for its annual college football campaign, building off last summer’s introduction of the Aflac Duck’s archenemy, the Gap Goat.

“Office Takeover,” the first of a new series of spots, will debut during the Aflac Kickoff Game Sept. 1 when Louisville takes on Georgia Tech on ESPN, running across linear, digital and social.

The spot opens with the Gap Goat taking over Saban and Sanders’ office to send out expensive medical bills. However, Gap Goat’s reign doesn’t last long, with Coach Prime bringing in a buffalo to evict the troublemaker.

“Meet one of my new homies,” Coach Prime quips in a gag that plays off Sanders’ first year of coaching the Colorado Buffaloes.

Minding the Gap

The campaign highlights the disparity between health insurance coverage and the actual cost of medical bills, with Coach Prime and Coach Saban leading the way.

“While kicking off another college football season, I’ll continue advocating for those grappling with medical debt arising from unforeseen medical events—something that hits close to home considering the medical injuries we face during the season,” Saban said in a statement. “Football teaches the importance of being prepared for any situation, and we want fans to know how Aflac can help when health expenses arise.”

In addition to “Office Takeover,” Aflac will roll out a series of five pieces of creative, three of which highlight particular products with Coach Prime.

“We don’t historically promote products, but this year, we’re making a big push to educate people about our cancer insurance product,” Garth Knutson, chief marketing officer at Aflac, told Adweek. “We’re really using this campaign and this year’s football season to talk more about product, but also Aflac’s work with the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center.”

Aflac worked with Atlanta agency Dagger and New York-based agency Manifest for the campaign, and the majority of the social media work was done in its in-house studio.

It’s the first year that Aflac is taking over the kickoff game in Atlanta, and the brand will have a heavy out-of-home presence in the city ahead of the event.

A GOAT return

Aflac first introduced Gap Goat last year in a successful launch, according to Knutson. After extensive pre-testing, the company made the decision to bring the enemy back.

“We always want to make sure that the goat, which is the problem, isn’t too cute or likable,” Knutson said. “We want to make sure that people understand it represents the enemy in this case, and the Aflac duck is the solution. We’re very confident that this spot and the work that’s still under development is going to be helpful for us in our quest to educate people about the expenses that health insurance doesn’t cover.”

The two other GOATs (greatest of all time) in the creative—Saban and Sanders—are no strangers to working with Aflac, and the latest creative adds to the long-standing partnership between the pair and the brand.

“Through my partnership with Aflac, I’ve gained a deep understanding of the financial burdens that often accompany health care. And believe me, I know firsthand from my own journey,” Coach Prime said in a statement. “I am blessed for the fact that I am able to pay my medical expenses, but I am aware that many people face significant financial challenges due to the gaps health insurance doesn’t cover.”

The Close the Gap campaign also extends beyond college football, with Aflac partnering with South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley earlier in the year for a spot with Coach K.