Gilbert Gottfried out as Aflac duck over Japan quake jokes

We didn't mention Aflac in our story today on insurance company advertising, which was focused on auto coverage. But it's worth noting that disability insurer Aflac made news today, when it fired the longtime voice of its iconic duck mascot.

The company has "severed ties" with loudmouth comedian Gilbert Gottfried, over a series of Twitter one-liners making fun of Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Aflac says the dozen jokes that Gottfried tweeted over the weekend "were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac." The company went on to say, "There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times."

Aflac happens to be the top-ranked foreign insurer in Japan, where it started selling cancer-expense policies in the 1970s. The company still takes in roughly three-quarters of its revenue from Japan.

Aflac, by the way, was already using a different voice for its duck ads in Japan. It says it's launching a casting call to find a new voice for its duck on this side of the Pacific.

*Photo: Gilbert Gottfried performs in New York City. Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images *

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Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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