Wanda Sykes Suits Up With the Aflac Duck for March Madness
Wanda Sykes brings her sassy comic style to Aflac ahead of March Madness, joining actor Lil Rel Howery and a certain duck for a series of "Pre-Pain Show" commercials created by DDB New York.
From a TV sports-desk set, the trio provide play-by-play commentary on average Joes doing average if ill-considered stuff—like climbing a rickety shelf in the garage and partying with a piñata (look out for that bat!). Naturally, their actions lead to unexpected injuries.
In a neat bit of visual trickery, the scenes freeze, leaving their subjects suspended in space and time just before the moment of pain. They briefly chat with Wanda and Howery, who assure them that supplementary insurance from Aflac will cover their resulting medical bills.
That's when the temporal flow resumes, and the big hurt arrives:
Adam Brodie and Dave Derewlan of Arts & Sciences, the imps behind Puppy Monkey Baby's return for MTN Dew, directed. For Aflac, they build on the company's 2021 NCAA tie-in, which teamed Howery with actor Rob Riggle (and the duck) at the desk.
"The latest work is an evolution of last year," DDB group creative director Ross Sanders tells Muse. "But where the 'Post-Pain Show' focused on the 'pain after the pain' of unexpected bills, this year's campaign focuses on the moment just before you get hurt and how Aflac can make that hurt, hurt less."
Wanda's always a sure bet, and her appealing presence provides an extra something special.
"When it comes to insurance, people are tired of feeling like they don't know what they're getting," says DDB executive creative director Paulo Junger. "Wanda's a great antidote to that feeling. Her direct style makes you feel like you're getting the real facts."
In a statement, the comedian says, "Medical debt, health and wealth disparities don't discriminate. Many Americans are one step away from a medical incident that could easily lead to financial ruin. I am proud to partner with Aflac to shine a light on critical issues impacting communities across this country—and to serve as Aflac's first LGBTQ+ woman of color to anchor a national campaign."
And if you're guessing CGI delivered those impressive freezes, think again.
"For the most part, the effects are all practical, with only a minimal amount of VFX to knit things together," says Junger. "When you see a guy floating in the air mid-fall, that's a guy in a rig made to look like he's floating."
Adds Saunders: "We wanted the spots to take place in that moment when you know you're in big trouble, but it's already too late to stop—like a sort of like a mini-version of your life flashing before your eyes. In that moment, will you feel regret that you didn't prepare for financial hurt that comes after your injury? Or will you be able to bear that pain a little easier because you have Aflac?"
These :15s drop that gimmick, but they're still funny:
Finally, Howery solos in "Rel Talk" messages that tout colon cancer screenings:
The push includes digital, TV, social and OOH elements, plus live event activations at the Men's Final Four Fan Fest, the Women's Final Four, a Student-Athlete Experience, and trip giveaways.
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