Nascar star drives interest for the Aflac Cancer Center

What are the company's media goals and how did an effort centered on Nascar driver Carl Edwards and the Aflac Cancer Center play into that messaging?

Name: Jon Sullivan, external comms manager, Aflac
Placement: CBS Evening News, September 6, 2009
Pitch timeline: Two weeks

What are the company's media goals and how did an effort centered on Nascar driver Carl Edwards and the Aflac Cancer Center play into that messaging?

Sullivan: Aflac is a leading insurance company. Since what we sell is a promise, it's essential that we demonstrate that we're a company that really cares about people in times of need.

Our media objective in this case was to drive awareness for our contest, Color Carl's Car, where Aflac Cancer Center patients were invited to submit designs for Carl's car, with the winning design being used at the September 6 Atlanta Motor Speedway race.

What made the CBS Evening News such a good target for this campaign and how did you pitch reporter Mark Strassmann?

Sullivan: The CBS Evening News has a tremendous national reach, which made it a great target. We've worked with Mark before, so I called him directly, noting we had a story with strong visuals centered on both the efforts to treat and find cures for childhood cancer and the work being done at the Aflac Cancer Center.

How did you maximize this contest to give it more than a local Atlanta appeal?

Sullivan: Instead of making this solely about the car, we centered our pitch on the broader issue of childhood cancer. It also helped that we were executing the largest sponsored cause in the history of Causes on Facebook, which has a worldwide reach. Finally we offered access to Carl, who is both great with the media and very familiar with the Aflac Cancer Center.

What was the impact of the hit?

Sullivan: The two-minute piece helped lead to 861,000 people joining the Aflac Cancer Center's Cause on Facebook. Because Aflac donated one dollar for everyone who joined and matched other donations, Color Carl's Car ended up raising more than $1.16 million for the Aflac Cancer Center.

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