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Aflac?s new campaign uses scare tactics to court millennials

Aflac is looking to arm millennials against unforeseen circumstances with its latest campaign, which uses humor and social media-inspired aesthetic to communicate practicality in the face of an accident. 

The campaign, led by a television commercial called ?Ski Patrol,? also has dedicated digital outlets in the form of informational content and mobile-optimized video advertising. It will also be anchored by a social media component featuring the insurance company?s popular character, the Aflac Duck.

"Our goal with this campaign was not to make our audience understand the insurance world, but for us to understand their world and show them how we can support the things that are important to them," said Gail Gail Galuppo, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Aflac. "We know young adults value experiences over possessions and enjoy recording these lasting memories. 

"For example, they enjoy taking photos that represent those experiences and sharing them," she said. "To bring our message to them in a relevant, authentic manner, we aimed to create simple visuals for our online advertising and social media posts using imagery that looks as if it could have been pulled straight from one of their friend?s latest social media updates. 

"We are pairing that with easy-to-understand copy that isn?t saturated with insurance industry lingo that they might not understand. Instead, we explain the benefits of our products in their terms; for example, we want young adults to think in practical terms, like how many date nights, concerts, cellphone payments or vacations they might miss due to the out-of-pocket costs of a broken arm, injured knee or slipped disc if they aren?t protected with supplemental insurance like Aflac?s."

Ski Patrol
Aflac?s campaign aims to reframe the supplemental insurance conversation through relatable examples of how changes in a person's health should not impact his or her lifestyle?part of a larger conversation involving insurance that many millennials, making less and working longer hours than analogous workers in previous generations, are not privy to.

The ?Ski Patrol? spot will premiere during the 90th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which airs on Thursday, November 24, on NBC, and will feature the Aflac Duck's sixth appearance in the parade.

The Aflac Duck also makes an appearance in the spot itself, which was directed by Martin Granger with cinematography directed by Oscar-nominated Robert Yeoman. 

In the commercial, two ski patrolman move in on a young skier with a broken leg, and delineate the worst case scenario for the young man in having to deal with medical bills: moving into his parents? basement. The approach latches on to a familiar stereotype about millennials, one that unfortunately rings true due to systemic economic forces limiting their opportunities.

Then the Aflac Duck shows up, wearing a ski hat and a scarf.

Social media
Also of note is that all of the actors used in the television commercial had improv backgrounds and improvised throughout the commercial shoot. There is also an improvised ending used in the television commercial that will air on Thursday during the Macy?s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The campaign?s ?visual identity? is, to quote a press release, ?inspired by the lifestyle imagery young adults are accustomed to seeing, creating and engaging with every day on their personal social media pages.? 

Aflac will also be partnering with a number of online influencers for the campaign, involving them in the kind of personality-driven marketing that brands tend toward to curry favor with the millennial audience. 

Out-of-home advertising in New York and cinema advertising will also showcase the campaign on some of the biggest screens available.

"Bummer, man."

Aflac is also teaming up with Macy?s for a holiday charity campaign that makes use of social media and branded mobile messaging services to raise awareness for childhood cancer (see story). 

And insurance companies have been getting especially creative with their marketing maneuverings this year, especially in regards to younger audiences. Liberty Mutual is helping home and auto owners address their maintenance worries through a series of mobile-optimized 360-degree videos featuring HGTV?s Chip Wade (see story).

"Approximately half of the Aflac Duck?s social media audience is made up of young adult fans between the ages of 18-34," Ms. Galuppo said. "Over the past year, we?ve seen the highest levels of engagement on seasonal and pop-culture moments as well as philanthropy-related and product-education content. 

"Based on this analysis, our approach is to develop timely content that strikes a balance between fun, carefree moments in the Duck?s life while also finding meaningful moments to educate consumers about the value of supplemental insurance like Aflac?s. For this campaign, you?ll see experiences such as vacations and once-in-a-lifetime milestones at the center of our social media content to ensure we continue to reach this audience in engaging ways."