Aflac Inc. (AFL), the biggest seller of supplemental insurance, fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of its duck mascot in the U.S., after comments he made about tsunami victims in Japan, the firm’s biggest market.
“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,” said Michael Zuna, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, in a statement today from the Columbus, Georgia-based insurer.
Gottfried posted messages on Twitter that made light of the deadly flooding in Japan, the Daily Mail reported on its website. Aflac launched the duck campaign in 2000 to elevate awareness of its supplemental insurance, according to a July 2010 statement from the company. The duck had appeared in 50 television commercials, the insurer said at the time.
“Aflac will immediately set plans in motion to conduct a nationwide casting call to find a new voice of the iconic Aflac Duck,” the insurer said in today’s statement. “It should be noted that Gilbert Gottfried is not the voice of the Aflac Duck in Japan.”
Tim Curtis and Ken DiCamillo, Gottfried’s talent agents at William Morris Endeavor, weren’t immediately available to comment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Marcinek in New York at Lmarcinek3@bloomberg.net
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