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Aflac Says Firing Gottfried as Duck Shows Decisiveness

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Dan Amos, chief executive officer of Aflac Inc., said the decision to fire comedian Gilbert Gottfried as voice of the insurer’s duck mascot in the U.S. shows the importance of quick action to protect the company’s reputation.

Amos ended Aflac’s relationship with Gottfried within 30 minutes, after being told of his remarks about tsunami victims in Japan, the company’s biggest market, the executive said today at a lunch sponsored by the Boston College Chief Executives’ Club of Boston.

“Events proved to me that when you’re decisive and transparent and ultimately trying to do the right thing, it will reflect on your company and on your image,” Amos said.

Gottfried posted messages on Twitter that made light of the deadly flooding in Japan, the Daily Mail reported on its website in March 2011. A month later, Aflac hired Dan McKeague, the sales manager from a Minneapolis radio station, as the voice of the duck mascot in the U.S. Columbus, Georgia-based Aflac launched the duck campaign in 2000 to elevate awareness of its supplemental insurance.

The job involves more than “just getting behind a microphone and yelling ‘Aflac’ over and over,” McKeague said after his hiring. The role requires “doing interviews, doing appearances and continuing to be an upstanding citizen.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Condon in Boston at ccondon4@bloomberg.net

Steven Norton in New York at Snorton7@bloomberg.net; Susanna Pak in New York at Spak10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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