published Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Aflac dumps duck voice actor for tasteless tweets

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Aflac Inc. said Monday it has fired Gilbert Gottfried, the abrasive voice of the insurer's quacking duck in the U.S., after the comedian posted a string of mocking jokes about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Twitter over the weekend.

  • photo
    In this June 14, 2010 file photo, Gilbert Gottfried arrives with the Aflac duck to the 14th Annual Webby Awards in New York. Aflac on Monday, March 14, 2011 announced that it has severed ties with Gottfried over jokes about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that the comedian posted on Twitter. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

The tasteless tweets are particularly problematic for Aflac because it does 75 percent of its business in Japan. One in four homes in Japan buys health insurance from Aflac. The insurer's CEO, Daniel Amos, flew to Japan on Sunday to show support for the company's employees and agents.

Aflac said in a statement Monday that Gottfried's jokes do not represent the feelings of the company, which previously announced it would donate 100 million yen ($1.2 million) to the International Red Cross to help with disaster assistance.

"There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times," Chief Marketing Officer Michael Zuna said.

The tweets in question were removed from Gottfried's Twitter feed Monday after Aflac announced it would stop working with the comedian.

Gottfried has voiced the duck in numerous Aflac commercials since 2000. His career includes a run as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" and a role as the voice of the parrot in Disney's "Aladdin." He has also recorded a 50-minute show of dirty jokes.

The insurer said it will start a casting search for his replacement. The company also noted that Gottfried is not the voice of the duck in Japan. Aflac's mascot has a softer, sweeter voice in Japanese commercials.

Aflac is gearing up for an influx of claims in the wake of the disaster, though it expects only a minimal financial impact to total results. The company, which has been doing business in Japan since 1974, said less than 5 percent of Aflac Japan's new sales and in-force premiums come from the hard-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures there.

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tomaso119 said...

When you're employed by an organization it is important to consider their position with issues, however Gottfried is a comedian. Many people deal with terrible events and situations through humor, it's just a way to cope. It may seem offensive but it's what a comedian does. If it's in his contract with Aflac to refrain from doing comedy about Aflac and their customers then I can see them firing him; otherwise I think giving him an opportunity to apologize would have been a better approach.

March 15, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
cosmicnights said...

That maggot needed to go. Period. If one bites the hand that feeds them then it is expected that one does not eat by that hand again. When Gottfried's mother died I don't remember him delivering horrible comments...hmmmm

March 15, 2011 at 3:16 p.m.

Gilbert is a moron anyway and the company did the right thing as far as i am concerned.The USA needs to also think about our country and do we got enough to cover our butts if this was to happen to us.

March 15, 2011 at 6:27 p.m.
dude_abides said...

I have loved Gilbert Gottfried for years. I loved the meek real person behind the gruff comedian. He can now go straight to hell. It makes me sick that his remarks may be seen as a prevailing attitude in this country that I have faith and pride in. There are people still dying from this horrific tragedy. Would he consider it comedic fodder if someone paralyzed his sorry ass and left him "locked in" for 20 or 30 years?

March 15, 2011 at 7:28 p.m.
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