Voice of Aflac’s Mascot Fired After Joking About Japan Disaster

(Original story at Dealbook here.)

Marketing 101 question: Why do some organizations use a fictional character for their mascot?

Answer: So that they do not have to deal with celebrity endorsers who get into the public relations limelight for the wrong reasons.

Still, even behind the face of a cute animal mascot, some people still get into trouble, like Mr. Gilbert Gottfried, voice of Aflac’s duck mascot, who tweeted “insensitive remarks about the disaster in Japan.”

At least Gottfried is a celebrity in his own right and probably is not depending on his paycheck from Aflac to sustain himself…

MARCH 14, 2011, 6:16 PM

Aflac Searches for New Duck

Aflac fired the voice of its spokesduck, Gilbert Gottfried, after the comedian made insensitive remarks about the disaster in Japan.
The decision by the insurer on Monday came after the actor, long known for making inappropriate comments, posted messages on Twitterthat made light of the fallout from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.“Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” Michael Zuna, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Aflac Japan – and, by extension, Japan itself – is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.”Several of the comments were sexual in nature, a common theme on Mr. Gottfried’s Twitter feed. The actor has previously used his account on the social media blogging site to post jokes, sometimes of questionable taste. The messages related to Japan have since been removed from Mr. Gottfried’s Twitter feed.Mr. Gottfried is not new to controversy. Three weeks after 9/11 attacks, he made light of the tragedy at a Friars Club roast for the founder of Playboy, Hugh Hefner. The comments prompted boos from audience members, one of whom said it was “too soon,” according to a New York Observer article at the time.

Aflac is conducting a nationwide search for a new actor to play its beloved duck. The company — which noted that Mr. Gottfried is not the voice of the duck in Japan — last week announced that it was donating 100 million yen to the International Red Cross for disaster assistance.

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Author: Nicholas

Experienced Mortgage Banker in the Denver metro area.

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