by Chris Shugart
I’m happy to inform you that the Aflac duck is back, so all is right with the world once again. Ever since comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired for making insensitive jokes about the Japan tsunami disaster on his Twitter page, Aflac had been on a recruiting mission for a new spokesduck. It would appear they’ve found him. (see the video)
Shortly after Gottfried was fired, the blogosphere reacted. There was a considerable backlash of criticism that Aflac had overreacted, had no sense of humor, and that Gilbert Gottfried’s tsunami jokes were at worst, a minor infraction of bad taste. Certainly nothing so objectionable that it should get someone fired.
Fortunately for this duck-endorsed insurance company, sensible men prevailed. Rather than bend to the whims of the internet peanut gallery, Aflac did the only thing an established and publicly prominent business could do. They fired the guy. The only thing that surprised me was Gottfried’s reaction. He didn’t seem to see it coming. Anyone with any understanding of corporate culture knew it was inevitable.
And thus the Aflac duck saga reminds us that multi-billion dollar companies are not here to provide online spectators with their daily yucks. And if you’re a company spokesperson, it would be best to remember that you represent a professional organization whose first responsibility is to their customers and shareholders. They care little about your Twitter followers your Facebook “likes” or the number of views on your YouTube page. Social media can be entertaining, even informative. But business is still business.