Comic Gilbert Gottfried in Aflac duck ads fired over tweets

NEW YORK Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:48pm 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, the company'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.

But 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.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Richard Chang)

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Comments (4)
bobw111 wrote:
Wait a minute. He’s been “lacking in humor” for the past 20 years. What took them so long to find out?

Mar 16, 2011 8:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
tobeornottobe wrote:
Gilbert’s humor has always been “cutting/bleeding edge”. Even in traditional venues/situations, he sometimes seemed to try to blur or eliminate the line between humor and discomfort. This blurring of that line sometimes has undesirable or unforeseen consequences. Just a thought…

Mar 16, 2011 5:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
drzsf wrote:
I am not conmfortable with an employer firing someone for personal activities that have nothing to do with their jobs.

Mar 17, 2011 1:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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