Gilbert Gottfried may be a great comedian, but if he has one lesson to teach about comedy, it’s this: even if you’re hired while the people know you do “blue” jokes, most advertisers don’t have a sense of humor. And when Gottfried thought it was okay to crack wise about the earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, he lost his lucrative job voicing the Aflac duck. To replace him, the AP reports that Aflac has now opened up the casting to anyone in the public who thinks they should have the job.
This is mostly a publicity stunt, but likely a good one all things, and it puts a positive spin on the new hiring. Regardless of how long this search goes on or who gets it, it looks better than replacing Gottfried with – say – Jeff Daniels or Howie Mandell. And though likely no one immediately dropped Aflac as their insurance agents, it’s not good to have a stigma attached to the company in any way, shape or form when it comes to branding. That’s what this is, and that’s all this is.
The thing that is most interesting about this – from the Gottfried perspective – is that we’ve now seen the impact twitter can have on the workplace. Gottfried has never exactly been a “safe” comedian, though he has appeared in a number of cartoons and kids films because of his distinctive voice. He and other comedians have used Twitter to workshop jokes and make mini-rants or whatever, and with it comes a sense that sometimes famous people let their guard down doing it. It’s easy to treat Twitter and Facebook as a place to say how you feel or make stupid jokes, but it turns out that these semi-public discourses have ramifications, and you never know who’s watching or will be offended. Gottfried learned that the hardest way.
Would you audition to be the voice of the Aflac duck?