June 24, 2019

My Special Aflac Duck Makes a Splash at Cannes 2019

Our feathered friend flew across the pond to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity last week, and what a week it was. From delighting audiences in a Healthcare Insights presentation to winning two (!!) Lions, My Special Aflac Duck left duckprints on this year’s Festival. 

Here’s a peek at the duck’s week (oh, and it was joined by our founder, Carol Cone.)

Why flap when you can soar? With a long week ahead, My Special Aflac Duck grabbed a coach seat on Swiss Air to get from Miami to Nice, France. 

A quick stopover in Zurich saw My Special Aflac Duck nibbling on Swiss chocolate. Long flights make for a hungry duck!

Celebrating a safe landing in Nice, France. After months of Cannes prep, it felt good to be on French soil! 

No time to nap – this duo hit the Festival as soon as they arrived in Cannes. My Special Aflac Duck was eager to show the world’s leading creatives how its child-centered technology helps children with cancer.

Carol kicked off Monday morning with a livestream session on the power of storytelling to create community. Luckily, she had a great case study at hand: our own duck, which helps generate awareness for a previously unmet need for children with cancer: social-emotional support. 

The panel was led by superstar BBC journalist Tina Daheley. She called Carol the “Purpose Queen.”

…who seems to have inspired My Special Aflac Duck to pursue a career in journalism! 

Excuse the pun, but this little duck is quite a party animal. My Special Aflac Duck was a hit with Festival attendees. Here, Aaron Frank, SVP Branded Entertainment Network (founded by Bill Gates), hangs with the duck at an AdWeek gathering.

Carol and My Special Aflac Duck look pretty hip in front of AdWeek’s step and repeat. (Could they be practicing for an awards win?)

Tuesday was the big day: My Special Aflac Duck took the Healthcare Insights stage to demonstrate the power of purpose, brand, and technology. Joining the duck was Carol Cone, CEO, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE; Catherine Blades, SVP and Chief ESG and Communications Officer, Aflac; and Aaron Horowitz, CEO and Co-founder, Sproutel.

Carol explained how our research led to the critical insight that children need support beyond medicine to cope with arduous cancer treatments. This led CCOP to conceptualize My Special Aflac Duck and identify Sproutel to bring it to “life.”

Aaron’s firm Sproutel is an R&D workshop that creates smart companions for children with serious illnesses. He demonstrated how My Special Aflac Duck’s features—from a heartbeat to feelings cards—help comfort children during their average 1,000 days of cancer treatments.

Catherine Blades shared Aflac’s willingness to take a risk for good—using a multi-billion-dollar brand asset, the Aflac duck, to help children with cancer. She also explained that true to its big heart, Aflac is donating a duck to any U.S. childhood cancer patient that wants one, at no cost to families or caregivers. 

There’s rarely a dry eye when people see children interacting with My Special Aflac Duck. Watch here

How else to celebrate a successful presentation than with some gelato? Chocolate and pistachio are their favorites. “Yum.” Or should we say, “Quack.”

My Special Aflac Duck closed out the day at The Drum’s party. This was especially meaningful given the publication’s recent piece on the duck. In it, author Kyle O’Brien observed that when children receive their duck, “magic fills the child’s eyes.”

These University of Georgia students were thrilled to interact with My Special Aflac Duck. They lunched with Aflac’s Catherine Blades later in the week to get the full background on the duck’s development.

Old friends, reunited. My Special Aflac Duck hit the town with Jerry the Bear, Sproutel’s companion for children with diabetes. 

Once again, My Special Aflac Duck prefers to ride in style rather than using wings…and we can’t blame it. This duck works hard for children with cancer. 

Case in point!

That’s one proud duck. Why? My Special Aflac Duck was awarded two Silver Lions, both in PR. The first: Use of Technology, which celebrates work that “pushes the boundaries of digital innovation.” The second: Corporate Image, Communications and Reputation. There were no golds awarded in either category, although a senior editor commented that at the end of the week, he would have preferred the elevation of My Special Aflac Duck to gold! (We’re blushing.) My Special Aflac Duck was also shortlisted for Brand Voice & Strategic Storytelling. 

We think this duck looks pretty good on the red carpet! 

Carol stopped by our presentation board to make sure this wasn’t all a dream… Those are two Lions under our entry! 

With celebrations in order, Carol and My Special Aflac Duck checked out the Wall Street Journal house. The view wasn’t terrible. 

At the SAP Global Goals House, My Special Aflac Duck considered jumping into the pool to celebrate two Cannes Lions and the accomplishment of getting into the arms of more than 4,300 children with cancer. Both the views and dinner were superb!

Carol and the Carol Cone ON PURPOSE team extend a warm thanks and congratulations to our partners at Aflac and Sproutel. The magic of this initiative lies in the deep collaboration, commitment to authenticity, and desire to help children that we shared. Our time at Cannes proved that creativity and innovation can be a force for good. 

To learn more about My Special Aflac Duck, and how you can help your local hospital order ducks, visit AflacChildhoodCancer.org

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