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Aflac CEO knew when to say no

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

It’s common to hear top executives discuss how they took someone’s advice and it paid off. But sometimes, leaders reject seemingly sound advice—and reap the rewards.

In 1999, CEO Dan Amos wanted to unveil a catchy television advertising campaign for his company, Aflac. At the time, the insurer’s name recognition registered at a lowly 10% in the United States.

Amos sought to introduce the recently rebranded company to Americans (its former name was American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus). So he challenged advertising agencies to devise a marketing blitz to make Aflac a household name.

“I told them that whatever they did must be tasteful, but other than that I did not set any guidelines,” Amos recalls.

Of the two best submissions, one featured comedian Ray Romano playing a game with cute kids. They spelled Aflac with alphabet blocks.

The other finalist starred a duck with a quack that sounded like “Aflac.” That commercial made fun of the company’s name.

Aiming to maximize name recognition, Amos tested each commercial. The Ray Romano ad earned an 18 in terms of its name-recognition score, while the Aflac Duck spot tested a 27.

Both of these options far exceeded the average score of 12 that Aflac’s existing series of drab commercials received. As Amos weighed which one to choose, he asked a CEO friend for advice.

“Nobody has ever got fired as a CEO for doing 50% better,” his friend replied. “Go with Ray Romano.”

But Amos loved the Aflac Duck. He couldn’t get it out of his head, even though he knew it was risky to run a major ad campaign that mocked the company’s name.

He didn’t take his friend’s advice, and the Aflac Duck became famous. The company’s visibility soared.

—Adapted from “How Aflac Built A Business On A Quack,” Robert Reiss, www.forbes.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gary. Thompson March 21, 2016 at 8:38 pm

interest in life insurance

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