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Paul Suggett

Was AFLAC Justified in Canning Gilbert Gottfried?

By March 14, 2011

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I'm no fan on the man's humor. At all. It's crass, it's usually tasteless and it's delivered in a way that makes my ears bleed. He recently fired off some jokes about Japan on his Twitter account, which is not something I condone either. I've never been a fan of gallows humor. Then, AFLAC fired him almost immediately.

But this is what bugs me. Actually, it really bugs me. Gottfried is known for this kind of joke-telling. He built a career off it. He is foul-mouthed and takes aim at everyone. He's done jokes about 9/11. He's done jokes on on hurricane Katrina. His joke in the movie The Aristocrats is nothing short of perverse. And yet, he's been in employment at AFLAC since the year 2000.

"There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times," Chief Marketing Officer Michael Zuna said. But Michael, where was your sense of outrage during Katrina or 9/11? Why not fire him then?

What's wrong with this picture? Why is it OK with AFLAC for Gottfried to rag on 9/11, Katrina and every other subject, but not Japan? Hmm? Would this have anything to do with the fact that AFLAC does 75% of its business in Japan? Ahh, hypocrisy. You can't beat it. Personally, I think Gottfried has a case here. They knew what kind of a comedian he was, just because they didn't approve of the target of his material, it doesn't mean they should just dump him. Poor form AFLAC.

March 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm
(1) Gerry Seattle says:

I agree completely. AFLAC knew exactly what they were buying when they signed Gilbert Gottfried to be the voice of the AFLAC Duck. He’s rude, crude and takes a shot at everyone. If they wanted to silence him they should have put it in his contract. The other point made is that 75% of AFLAC’s business is from Japan. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen and AFLAC is not going to win. In fact they’ve already lost, because the tide of public opinion and common sense has already started questioning AFLAC’s decision process. Just cut your losses and pay off his contract before you ruin an iconic marketing symbol like the AFLAC Duck!

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