Adweek visits the hospitalized Aflac duck

Adweek.com recently went behind the scenes of Columbus-based Aflac’s latest commercial featuring its popular duck, only this time it’s literally a lame duck.

Jay Williams of the ad agency Publicis Kaplan Thalerm told Adweek the goal of the ad is to place the duck, "a working actor," in the same situation that many of Aflac's supplemental insurance clients might find themselves: hospitalized and in need of an insurance policy that will help them with a range of expenses as they recover.

“So, we thought there could be a humorous way to make the duck a metaphor for the people Aflac helps.” Williams, the New York agency’s executive creative director, told Adweek.

One commercial has a team of doctors hovering over the famous duck, who is bedridden in a brightly lit hospital room, with beak heavily wrapped and left wing in a harness. He suffers from a fractured beak and multiple lacerations to the wing, or as a doctor in one ad says, “a hairline fracture to the mandible and contusions to the metacarpus.”

When the lead doctor in the ad asks the others what they see, one doctor replies, “I see the Aflac duck out of work and not making any money.” As the duck listens, occasionally surveying his surroundings, the lead doctor reminds the others, “Remember, Aflac will give him cash, they’ll cover his rent, car payments and keep everything as normal as possible.” And that’s the main message Aflac wants viewers to get.

Williams wouldn’t tell Adweek whether the duck’s movements are animatronic, the result of computer-generated imagery, or both. “He’s private when it comes to things like that,” he says of the duck.

One of the ads sends viewers to GetWellDuck.com, where 30,000 people made sympathy cards, Adweek said.

The hospital ad is one of the few times you don't hear the duck utter the trademark "Aflaaaac!"