Not rendering correctly? View this email as a web page here.

Aflac turned its famous duck brand mascot into an internet-connected robot that comforts kids with cancer. My Special Aflac Duck is designed to play, engage and connect with patients in order to distract them while undergoing their treatment. The duck will be made available to clinics across the US in Q4, for free.

We've seen endless companies desperately trying to 'become tech companies', taking stands at CES and SXSW to hype their latest gadget that consumers won’t use. We've also seen just as many brands pour massive time and money into causes that are tangentially relevant to them, trying to jump on the 'brand purpose' bandwagon.

However, anyone working on similar projects should take a number of lessons from My Special Aflac Duck.

  • It's just one part of a much longer-term effort: not only has Aflac contributed USD 120 million over 22 years, but creating the duck took 18 months and led to four pending patents.
  • It’s a great example of an organization aligning their philanthropic efforts with the wider brand: for non-US readers, the Aflac duck has its own section in the company’s Wikipedia page and has over 700,000 fans on Facebook!
  • It should also remind you that the best tech innovation is never about features (more sensors! Smarter AI! Higher fidelity!), but always about how well technology becomes a servant to people’s basic human needs. Watch the video and tell us Aflac haven’t nailed that.

▶️ Watch the video and let us know what you think. ▶️

Want more? Clients can set up weekly innovation digests for relevant topics. They also get full access to the 19,000+ innovations in our online database and 50+ reports a year, including our exclusive 2018 Trend Report. Learn more »