Aflac CEO Says Its Quacking Duck Made All The Difference To Bottom Line

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Matthew Brooks Contributor
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Aflac CEO Dan Amos is crediting the rise of the company to their gimmicky commercials starring a quirky, outgoing duck.

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, Amos says that he was initially skeptical of the commercials, believing that they made fun of the name. (RELATED: AFLAC CEO explains Gilbert Gottfried firing)

“The advertising agency that we had was sitting on a park bench in New York City, and heard the ducks quacking, and one of them said, ‘That is what we need to go for,'” Amos said in the interview. “I said that I would never do it — at that time you didn’t have the Geico ads, you didn’t have all of the other ads.”

“We took a big chance making fun of our name, because you’re not just doing it, you’re actually making fun of your name,” Amos says. “And yet, it forever changed our life and doubled our business in three years in the U.S.”

The first Aflac duck ad was released on January 1, 2000, right on the heels of Geico, who had released their first commercial with the Geico gecko in 1999.

“…overnight, we realized that we had a hit. We actually had more hits on the internet the first week than we had the entire year before,” Amos told Yahoo Finance.

The commercials caused Aflac’s brand recognition to explode, going from 11 percent to 94 percent over the course of the next fourteen years.

Aflac’s success has inspired many other insurance companies to create satirical commercials of their own, such as Allstate’s Mayhem or Flo from Progressive.