Aflac debuts new commercial

Aflac fills in the gaps. That's the message the supplemental insurer is trying to convey in its newest commercial, titled "Donut."

In the commercial, two police officers are sitting in a police car. One holds up a donut and compares it to major medical insurance.

"See the hole, that's where Aflac comes in," he said. "Helps pay for groceries, rent and all kinds of bills."

The Columbus-based company provides policyholders with direct cash during times of illness or injury. That is in addition to a customer's major medical coverage.

"Using a donut pneumonic allows consumers to visualize potential gaps in their coverage that Aflac can help fill," said Jeff Herbert, Aflac's chief marketing officer.

The spot, which debuted nationwide Friday during the NASCAR Busch Series Race, is part of the company's marketing push to get the public to understand what Aflac does.

"We stated not long ago that in going forward, our objective was to take advantage of our high awareness scores we already have, maintain them and then move toward consumer understanding of our products and services," Herbert said.

And according to the company, it's working.

Herbert said advertising tracking service Millward Brown has shown that Aflac's numbers around customer understanding has gone up in the last year.

Herbert said he thinks this is due in part to the commercials, but also the growing concern over medical coverage costs in the U.S.

"We think our products are right on trend," Herbert said.

Duck's direction

"Donut" is the 30th commercial in Aflac's commercial series created by New York City-based Kaplan Thaler Group. Kaplan Thaler's Tom Amico and Eric David were behind the first duck commercial in 1999.

Since inception, the duck has saved a damsel in distress — specifically, financial distress — watched Wayne Newton in Las Vegas, and more.

"The duck has been to so many places and done so much," said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive officer and chief creative officer of the company. "The duck has done more than most of us have done in our lifetime."

Thaler said the New York City-based advertising group is able to keep Aflac commercials fresh thanks to Amico and David's creativity as well as support from Aflac.

"It's a real partnership," Thaler said. "You just can't create the volume of work and the kind of work that we do with the duck without clients who totally understand branding."

As for the duck's future television spot plans?

"Where he'll be and where he'll be going, I'm not at liberty to say," Thaler said. "He has his own itinerary."

The newest commercial will continue throughout the fall on primetime shows, college football games and a number of cable networks.