Brand Purpose The Drum Awards Brand Strategy

Aflac closes the health insurance gap for millions of Americans


By Awards Analyst, writer

December 8, 2022 | 6 min read

Aflac won at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose 2022 in the Best Brand Purpose for its health insurance campaign. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project.


Aflac believes the costs of care shouldn’t come at the expense of peace of mind

Aflac believes the costs of care shouldn’t come at the expense of peace of mind, and for more than 65 years, it has helped people with expenses health insurance doesn't cover. In 2021, Aflac took this a step further by launching the Close the Gap initiative, which educates, supports, and advocates around the critical and rising issue of medical debt, including its disproportionate impact on people of color and those in underserved, under-resourced communities.

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The brief

Health insurance wasn't designed to cover everything. Many find themselves in debt following unexpected medical events and that's where Aflac comes in, to help with the expenses medical insurance doesn't cover. However, having done this for more than 65 years, Aflac recognized that medical debt disproportionately causes suffering – especially on people of color and underserved communities. To help alleviate this burden, Aflac launched Close the Gap in 2021 to raise awareness around medical debt exposure – and its unequal impact – to help close the gap for Americans nationwide.

The idea

Aflac has brought the program to life through a series of initiatives that are sparking dialogue and eliciting change for Americans facing medical debt. This multi-year, multifaceted initiative includes ‘The Park Bench,’ an animated short film presented by Aflac, which showcases a scenario familiar to many families: what happens when a medical event occurs? Care is at the center of everything Aflac does, and to tell that story, the company brought together multiple African American Oscar- and Grammy Award-winning artists, such as rapper Nas, to animate, score, and tell the story of a family affected by Sickle Cell Anemia and the duck who befriends their daughter and helps the family through their recovery.

While the genesis of Aflac’s Close the Gap initiative focused on the disproportionate impact of medical debt, it also shined a light on the underserved and overlooked. The animated short film showcases the power of vulnerability and caring for others in times of unforeseen events, and it paid homage to Aflac’s first television commercial in 2000. It was designed to raise awareness around the importance of family and care during times of crisis and allowed Aflac to visually show how it’s helping close the health and wealth gaps across the country, bringing Aflac’s brand purpose to life. When “The Park Bench” aired, the film garnered over 900,000 views in one week on Hulu and 4.7 million impressions on Amazon Prime video.

Aflac showcased the film with its most trusted resource - its employees - by hosting a virtual premiere of the film. Employees praised the film, relaying how the film encompassed Aflac’s values and made them proud to be part of a company that cares.

The results

For the Close the Gap launch in January alone, Aflac earned nearly 800 million impressions, 8.7 million social media impressions, and an ad value equivalent to $5.2 million. With nearly 90 earned placements in national outlets, Aflac raised awareness around the critical issue of medical debt and its disproportionate impact on underserved communities.

Recognized as Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” 21 years in a row, Aflac believes its socially responsible culture is the differentiator that truly sets them apart.

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This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose 2022. You can see all the winners here. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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