Aflac Casts Deion Sanders in DEI College Football Blitz
In his commercial debut for Aflac, Deion Sanders neither walks nor talks like a duck. Thankfully. But he does share screen time with the insurer's spokes-fowl—and Alabama coach Nick Saban, too—in a college football-themed campaign from creative agency Dagger.
Ads with a multicultural vibe cast former two-way sports star Sanders as "Coach Prime," a reference to his "Prime Time" nickname and brand-new coaching gig at Jackson State.
As Deion meets duck, we get jokes about earning an "Aflacket" (aka, Saban's blue blazer, which he's worn in previous spots) and funky musical riffs from a marching band:
Next, Saban and the duck scrimmage on field amid quips about "wingspan" and "coverage":
Wait, 256 career wins and seven national championships as a college head coach, and he winds up staring down a duck as Deion Sanders
quacks cracks wise? That's what makes America great!
Sanders and Saban seem to be having a grand time. It's certainly a kicky way to focus on closing the gap for customers with unexpected medical bills that health insurance doesn't cover.
As a bonus, Aflac is using the campaign to call attention to historically black colleges and universities, as well as communities of color. The band in the spot—"Flockwave and the Incomparable Tailfeathers"—features actual HBCU musicians and dancers. They perform a game-day arrangement of "Must Be The Money," Sanders' walk-on song from his playing days, an on-brand selection for sure. Also, the band uniforms, Deion's wardrobe and the Aflacket are customized designs that exemplify HBCU spirit, Aflac says.
The company notes that its commitment to diversity dates back to its first TV spot, "Park Bench," from 2000. Aflac cites the participation of director J.J. Adler from Ruckus Films and her multicultural crew in its latest work as an evolution of that stance.
"Coach Prime is not only a world-class athlete and coach, but also a father, teacher, and advocate for Black opportunity," says Dagger creative director Brandon Hampton. "He stands in the gap of education for HBCUs while Aflac stands in the healthcare gap for its policyholders."
As for Saban, "We got the G.O.A.T.," Hampton says. "He's straightforward, no-nonsense. How do you contrast that on camera with another personality? The name that bubbled and rose to the top was Coach Prime."
He adds: "The coaches had a chance to meet the morning before the shoot. It was so interesting to watch them interact with each other—there was an immediate friendship and the mutual respect was palpable. So much so, in fact, that when Coach Prime was called to set, he said, ‘Next person that interrupts me and Coach [Saban] while we’re talking football is going to get it!' We all cracked up!"
The ads will air on ESPN/ABC, the ACC Network, the SEC on CBS, and elsewhere, with social media support, and activations throughout the college football season.
Shannon Watkins, Chief Brand & Marketing Officer
Garth Knutson, VP Brand Marketing
Mallory Hartline, Sr. Brand Manager, Connections
Michele McMullin, Sr. Brand Manager, Experiential
Amy Persons, Sr. Manager, Corporate Communications
Kaci Stewart, Sr. Brand Manager, Content
Alex Santos, Brand Manager
Tod Meisner, Brand Manager, Social Media
Sean Kelly, Brand Manager
Lisa Malone, Brand Manager, Connections
Lacrecia Cade, AVP, B2B Brand Strategy
Jared Martin, Creative Studio Director
John Helms, Multimedia Manager
Al Patton, Chief Creative Officer
Brandon Hampton, Creative Director
Aaron Konter, Associate Creative Director
Cleo Bess, Art Director
Ransom Haywood, Senior Copywriter
Emily Turner, Copywriter
Cristian San Emeterio, Copywriter
Brittany Lazaroff, Content Creator
Carla Guy, Chief Strategy Officer
Jessica Neville Tinetti, Group Director Strategy
Natalie Otterson, Senior Brand Strategist
Kelly Taylor, Senior Content Strategist
Tristan Watson, Social Engagement Manager
Todd Johnson, Executive Producer, campaign lead
Chris Cella, Social Content Director
Adina Hilton, Senior Producer, Aflac Social
Daniel Barnes, CG Supervisor , CG Social lead
Adrian Schwarz, Social Production Manager
Cory Di Mino, Social Video Editor and Motion Graphic Manager
Vince Scicchitano, VP Group Account Director, Aflac account lead
Brittany Hurley, Account Supervisor, lead on Aflac Brand
Katie Orr, Account Supervisor, lead on Aflac Social
Kristin Richards, Program Director, Aflac Brand & Social
Eliana Katz, Program Manager, Aflac Brand
Lauren Herle, Program Manager, Aflac Social
Sarah Kuhn, Project Coordinator, Aflac Brand & Social
Ruckus Films, Production Company:
Director: JJ Adler
Executive Producer: Greg Jones
Cinematographer: Eric Steelburg
Hero Post, Post Production Company:
Editor: Jeff Jay
Executive Producer: Molly Baroco
Framestore, Visual Effects:
VFX Supervisor: Martin Lazaro
Executive Producer: Heino Henning
Senior Producer: Maura Hurley
Spark Foundry - Media Agency
MELT Atlanta - Experiential Agency
Manifest - B2B Agency