Aflac fires duck voice Gottfried over tweets

NEW YORK Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:13pm EDT

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried arrives with a duck at the Webby Awards in New York June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried arrives with a duck at the Webby Awards in New York June 14, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Disability insurer Aflac Inc fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of its iconic duck on Monday after a series of Twitter jokes about the earthquake in Japan, Aflac's most important market.

Since 2000, Gottfried has voiced the duck in the insurer's TV ad campaign in the United States, quacking "Af-LAC!" in the comedian's famously abrasive voice.

Gottfried fired off a dozen jokes on the social media service over the weekend, all riffing in one way or another on the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami. One joke suggested Japan needed an urgent shipment of rubber ducks, though many tended toward the crude and sexual.

The company said his comments "were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac."

Aflac said it would start a nationwide casting call to find a new voice -- and noted that it was already using a different voice in the Japanese market, where it is the No. 1 foreign insurer.

The company made its name selling cancer expense policies in Japan in the 1970s, and still derives about three-quarters of its revenue in the country.

Gottfried's agent was not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Richard Chang, Gary Hill)

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Comments (5)
Samdog_07 wrote:
Never heard of the guy–but when your paycheck is coming from a big insurance company, it’s not a good idea to crack jokes at the expense of suffering people, especially considering thousands have just been maimed or killed.

Mar 14, 2011 7:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
QTRHRSRancher wrote:
Come on, he’s Gilbert AFLACing Gottfried, the man who attempted to tell the world’s dirtiest joke in a HBO special. If you weren’t a fan most wouldn’t know he is the one quacking. I tried to get my wife to buy AFLAC now with what I know about the country and the number of family members having been stationed there AFLAC AFLAC. Thanks Gilbert for saving her money.

Mar 14, 2011 7:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
logic4you wrote:
This guy was never funny…just irritating with that sharp, shrill, annoying voice. How he got as far as he has is certainly a mystery to me.

Mar 15, 2011 9:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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