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Aflac’s Duck Takes Wing With Disney’s ‘Duck Tales’ in Ad Pact

Duck Tales” fans should prepare to welcome another famous fowl to the cartoon clan of quackers who star in Disney’s revered animated series – for about 30 seconds, that is.

The Aflac Duck, that vociferous champion of insurance, will make an appearance in a commercial with Donald Duck and his nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie as well as the other mallards, ganders and geese that populate the animated adventure program. Disney recently revived the series, which previously enjoyed a heyday as a syndicated offering for kids between 1987 and 1990, on its Disney XD cable outlet. The commercial, which will also be distributed via social media and in video on demand, will never appear within the show itself, said Jerry Daniello, senior vice president of integrated marketing at Disney ABC Television Group.

The team-up will mark the first time Aflac has aligned its popular duck with TV characters – real or animated, says Gail Galuppo, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the Columbus, Georgia, company in remarks sent via email. “Our core audience is known for being ambitious, entrepreneurial and adventure-seekers – much like the traits of the characters in ‘Duck Tales,’ ” she said.

TV networks have long worked to weave advertisers into shows, but these days, they are trying to place more emphasis on connecting the commercials more directly to the programs they accompany. “We are experiencing a lot of desire from our clients to play in this space,” Daniello said.

Across the set-top box, TV networks are trying to make commercial interruptions less of something to endure and more of something that augments the experience of watching the show drawing people in the first place. In August, ABC worked Mitsubishi into air time surrounding ABC News’ coverage of the recent solar eclipse and in recent months has paired Microsoft with the ABC comedy “Black-ish” and Procter & Gamble’s Swiffer with “Dancing With The Stars.” Many other TV networks are experimenting with the concept as well, as anyone who has seen a Microsoft or Hyundai ad employing zombies during AMC’s showings of “The Walking Dead” can tell you.

“While we still continue to do traditional commercials, Aflac is always looking for new and creative media opportunities like this DuckTales sponsorship,” said Aflac’s Galuppo. But the company has to be picky, she said. “We can’t jump at every opportunity. With ‘DuckTales,’ everything from the character attributes and the story plots to the show’s target audience and the series timing aligned with Aflac’s current goal of advocating for our customers to enjoy life experiences.”

Disney is giving its new waterfowl amalgamation a starry send-off. The full 30-second spot will premiere during tomorrow’s broadcast of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” In a segment slated to air Thursday, the Aflac duck will appear live on the show, and the ad will run as part of the morning-news franchise’s content. Under terms of the deal, Aflac will distribute the commercial through its own social-media channels, and sponsor the program on the Disney XD mobile app. Disney will also post it through its Disney XD and “Duck Tales” social media outlets.

The two sides have been working on the idea since last Spring, said Daniello. Spark Foundry, the Publicis Groupe media-buying agency helped its client Aflac in negotiating the deal.

The company is taking care with its venerable characters, many of whom have been around for decades. “Each property has its own set of rules,” said Daniello. Donald and his family cannot take part in anything that might compromise their integrity, he said, nor can they appear to endorse a particular product or specific attribute. “It’s not that much different from working with certain talent,” he said.

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