Can you quack like a duck?
If so, hope you gave insurer Aflac a call – they’re looking for a new voice for the iconic Aflac duck.
In a story covered by everyone from the Hollywood Reporter to the New York Daily News, longtime voice-of-the-duck Gilbert Gottfried was fired on Monday, March 14, 2011 after making tasteless tweets about the recent earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan.
As a company that focuses on the serious business of insurance (including cancer, life, medical, etc.), one might imagine desirable spokesduck qualities to be trustworthiness, compassion, dedication - in addition to, of course, memorability. Whether or not you choose to make the case there was inherent risk of Gottfried firmly inserting his foot into his mouth at some point during his considerable tenure (he IS a comedian, after all), Gottfried's personal remarks on Japan just didn't fit the bill (no pun intended. well okay, maybe a little).
So after more than 10 years with Gottfried's voice, the duck is looking for a new quacker. Aflac opened applications to the general public, and posted on Monster.com as well as QuackAflac.com. (If you're still interested, though, a message today on Aflac's site reads “Sorry, you’re too late to be the spokesduck.” but does note that updates on the search will be posted on the Duck’s Facebook page in the third week of April).
Will the next duck be a total departure, or mirror that signature nasally (and oft-irritating) voice we’ve become familiar with? What about a female duck?
Whether or not you secure your place as the next spokesduck, there’s certainly one lesson that’s been reinforced here. When you ARE a brand (or even just affiliated with one), what you do in your personal life reflects on the brand just as much as it does on you. While this has been true for decades, with social media/social networks now mainstream communication channels, your “social” life makes you that much more visible – requiring you to be that much more vigilant.
Aside: Gottfried’s “jokes” were deliberate, and tweeted on his personal account. I haven’t even addressed some of the recent incidents we’re all familiar with--examples of “accidental” tweets – where an account admin was mistakenly tweeting on the company account as opposed to a personal account. Check out:
The follow-up blog post.
(Shaun Amanda Herrmann)