Aflac brings logo to life to help children with cancer

 
Aaron Horowitz of Sproutel (left) and Aflac’s Catherine Hernandez-Blades with the ducks

Aaron Horowitz of Sproutel (left) and Aflac’s Catherine Hernandez-Blades with the ducks

The Health Inspiration Stage hosted The Intersection of Purpose, Brand, Technology: Finding A Mascot’s Purpose seminar, an inspiring and emotional session that featured a robotic duck designed to comfort child cancer patients.

The duck, based on the Aflac logo , and designed by technology company Sproutel, is offered free by the insurance company to hospitals around the US. “To bring an icon alive, firstly it has to be done in an authentic way,” said Catherine Hernandez-Blades, SVP and chief ESG (environmental, social and governance) and communications officer at Aflac.

More than 4300 ducks have been given to 200 child cancer facilities for free, representing an investment by the company of over $3m.

The duck was 18 months in development. “Ultimately we were primarily focused on making healthcare playful, which meant working with kids, their parents and doctors, in fact we ended up working and consulting with 100 kids and 35 doctors, all of whom contributed to the design and functionality,” said Aaron Horowitz, co-founder and CEO of Sproutel. “The duck may look like a toy, but it is not, it’s a social robot and a tool that interacts with and helps kids.”

Hernandez-Blades set out the main insights that informed the design: “We wanted to create a friend for kids that is just like them when they’re going through chemotherapy and other treatments, but one that also offers the kids some of the control over their lives that has been lost due to hospitalisation.”

 
Harriet Palmer