Inside 'Moments of Joy': Documentary shows how a robotic duck helps kids with cancer

Aflac partnered with Chispa House to create the film.

Company: Aflac
Campaign: Moments of Joy
Agency partners: Chispa House (video production and marketing) 
Duration: September 2019

Aflac and Chispa House created Moments of Joy, a 35-minute documentary that tells the stories of children with cancer. My Special Aflac Duck, an anthropomorphic mechanical duck designed to be a friend to children battling cancer that is used in hospitals across the country, is heavily featured in the film.

Aflac’s My Special Aflac Duck won best in show at CES 2018 and was named one of Time magazine’s 50 Best Inventions last year.

The animatronic duck is part of the insurance provider’s 20-plus year commitment to pediatric cancer.

"Of all of the money earmarked for cancer treatment [in the U.S.], less than 4% goes to childhood cancer research," said Catherine Hernandez-Blades, chief ESG (environmental, social and governance) and communications officer at Aflac.

Donating and volunteering to childhood cancer initiatives has been a way for the company to "step in and make a meaningful difference and to be there for people when they need it most," she said.

Chispa House, a video production and marketing company that makes "humanity-focused content," approached Aflac about filming a documentary highlighting the duck’s impact late last year. 

"Our strategy was pretty much to let Chispa House do their thing," said Jon Sullivan, Aflac’s director of corporate communications. "We knew it would go a lot further if people felt as though this was a Chispa House idea, rather than Aflac instigating it. I think that lends to the authenticity of the value of the duck and the value of the film." 

The film was released in September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Both Aflac and Chispa House promoted the film on their social media channels in the days leading up to its September 25thpremiere. Pre-launch content included photos and short video clips highlighting the children featured in the film.

An in-person viewing was held at The Atlantic Festival in Washington, DC, complete with a gold carpet (the color that represents pediatric cancer) and attended by the children in the documentary and their families. Aflac also created two Facebook events around the premiere: one for the livestream of the Washington, DC, viewing and one for the digital launch of the documentary.

Moments of Joy will continue to be submitted to film festivals across the country, said Kristen Fraser, a PR manager at Aflac. The company is also supporting the film with paid advertising – including boosted organic posts, dark posts with 30-second trailers, and hyper targeting – on multiple social media channels, with a focus on Facebook and YouTube.

"For social causes, messages tend to resonate more deeply when there is a personal connection," Fraser said. "To reach as many people with an intimate connection to the film’s message, we targeted healthcare professionals, childhood cancer supporters and general consumers in the home states of the children in the films."

Around 200 people attended the film’s Washington, DC, world premiere. The documentary was also screened at Aflac’s headquarters in Columbus, Georgia, to more than 800 employees.

Before the film’s premiere, Aflac arranged a 29-broadcast interview satellite media tour for Ethan Daniels, a 14-year-old cancer survivor featured in the film, Andrew Levy, president of Chispa House, and Hernandez-Blades.

More than 30 individual stories about the documentary have been published. Including syndication, nearly 1,000 television stations have aired the interview featuring Daniels, Levy and Hernandez-Blades.

On social media, users were directed to the to view the documentary. While the URL was created specifically for the campaign, it directs people to Aflac’s pre-existing corporate responsibility page. Compared with January to August 2019, September saw an 5,900% increase in traffic to the page, "which will undoubtedly result in more people becoming aware of Aflac’s overall CSR program," Hernandez-Blades said.

The Facebook campaign alone translated into nearly 100,000 views of the full documentary in the one-week period following the premiere.

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