NEW YORK – Disability insurer
Aflac Inc fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of its iconic duck
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 riffling in one way or
another on the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
But the company said his comments
“were lacking in humour 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
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