Getting to Know the Company Behind The Duck: How Aflac used the power of discrete choice to reposition its brand


Aflac Logo

Consumers recognized and enjoyed Aflac’s popular spokes-duck, but few knew what The Duck wanted them to do, or even much about The Duck’s product category – supplemental insurance. So, Aflac had a branding challenge: They needed to educate the market about their product category, present a compelling and differentiating value proposition, all while building on the amusing irreverence of the duck and its desire to “pay cash.”

CMB’s research was fundamental to creating our new ad campaign and renewing our brand positioning. Their innovative quantitative approach provided a basis for reviewing what worked and what didn’t. They provided the agency with a clear direction, while allowing for the creative flexibility to create one of our most successful ad campaigns to date.

Missy Wood, Vice President of Insights, Aflac


Conducted an innovative quantitative brand positioning study across three audiences (consumers, employers, and brokers) using discrete choice. Unlike traditional measurement approaches, discrete choice allowed us to:

  • Optimize the brand positioning across all three audiences, yet still addressed the unique needs of each group.
  • Create a user-friendly simulator (for use by Aflac and their agency) that identified how specific changes to elements of the brand positioning would increase or decrease each audience’s desire to get more information from Aflac.
  • Provide direction on how to deliver customer experiences that would directly support the new brand position.
  • Deliver an optimized brand position that specified: 1) the overarching value statement; 2) how to address audience’s goals; 3) emotional and functional benefits to highlight; 4) customer experiences to be delivered through internal processes and employee-customer relationships; and, 5) the most compelling proof points.


Aflac used the results to establish “guiderails” for Digitas, who worked on the new advertising campaign. These guiderails gave the agency the freedom to be creative, while holding them true to the direction established by the research.
The results of this study can be seen in Aflac’s ad campaign that began airing during the fall and winter of 2011.