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What The Duck? How Aflac Balances Purpose And Profit: My Q&A With Catherine Hernandez-Blades

By Aaron Kwittken, Contributor



As one of America’s largest supplemental insurance companies, it’s no surprise Aflac has positioned itself at the forefront of the insurance industry, proving to the world this highly-reputable brand is here to stay. With wildly popular campaigns including the launch of the well-recognized Aflac Duck at CES, the company continues to reach new heights from its humble beginnings in the 1950s.

I recently spoke with Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Chief Brand & Communications Officer at Aflac, to learn more about Aflac’s evolution from a communications perspective, its steadfast commitment to being a purpose-driven brand and innate ability to enhance its reputation.

Kwittken: Earlier this fall, you participated in a conversation about ‘purpose and profit’. What role does purpose play at Aflac?

Hernandez-Blades: Purpose is absolutely critical at Aflac. The good news, and the purpose of those particular remarks that you reference, is that companies who engage in meaningful social purpose activities do better financially. The social purpose team resides in Corporate Communications and manages everything from our foundation, to the company donation accounts, employee volunteer engagement activities, and most recently, My Special Aflac duck, which is also the crowing jewel of our three year CSR plan.

Kwittken: Can you describe your role as a guiding force in Aflac’s efforts to fundraise for childhood cancer? How has Aflac has been able to successfully generate more than $120 million for this cause?

Hernandez-Blades: My Special Aflac Duck is a social robot designed to provide comfort and joy to children undergoing cancer treatment in the U.S. who are between the ages of 3-13. It helps children communicate their feelings, engage in medical play, and there is even an augmented reality feature designed to not only be entertaining, but to also provide an escape if you will from their treatment regimens without leaving the hospital. It is truly a team sport – due to the dedication and commitment of our employees and sales agents that we are able to have such a positive impact on families who are in such difficult circumstances. One very key point, however is to assign credit where it belongs. Our incredible independent field force donates more than $500,000 every month to our childhood cancer cause. I’ll put them up against any field force, anywhere.

Click here to read the full interview

Tweet me: Learn how @Aflac balances purpose and profit in this Q&A with CCO @CHBlades via @Forbes

KEYWORDS: Aflac, NYSE:AFL, Catherine Hernandez-Blades

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