When it comes to brand recognition, the Aflac Duck is more than just a mascot, it’s a voice too. Aflac offers major medical insurance to individuals and businesses, but you might be more familiar with its loud, obnoxious duck that stars in all of the commercials. The unmistakable quack which was voiced by Gilbert Gottfried for over ten years is being replaced by Dan McKeague, a sales manager and father of three from Minneapolis. Aflac fired Gottfried after he tweeted inappropriate jokes about the earthquake in Japan. This was particularly offensive to Aflac which does nearly three-quarters of its business in Japan and insures approximately one out of every four Japanese households.
Instead of just replacing Gottfried and hoping no one would notice a new voice, Aflac launched a month-long campaign, held live auditions in major cities across the United States and took online submissions, all in search for the next great quack (I think that has a much better ring to it than American Idol). Not only did this draw attention to the fact that Aflac didn’t agree with Gottfried’s behavior, but it also reintroduced the Aflac Duck to the public, and reinforced the company’s brand image. McKeague was chosen for his vocal embodiment of the duck, according to Aflac, but also because of his philanthropic background and ethical values which are consistent with the company’s culture.
Don’t expect a big change though. Dan McKeague’s Aflac quack is actually quite similar in tone and character to Gottfried. In fact, if you aren’t paying attention you might not even notice. Aflac is planning to debut its first commercial with the new voice immediately, as well as posting it on the company’s Facebook page.