I’ve always been amazed (OK and maybe a little bit jealous) at the amount of money that brands dish out to celebrities to be their spokesperson/s. I’ve yet to see a demonstrative ROI case proving that a celebrity spokesperson contributed to a brand’s success.
Don’t get me wrong, if a celebrity truly uses the product and is successful, a brand can reap huge awards (e.g., Michael Jordan and Air Jordans). However, if a celebrity is not a visible user and is used as mere off the shelf talent, why bother with the added expense? Instead, use someone far less expensive – and just as effective – and make your product the hero.
I bring this up because the Aflac duck lost its voice yesterday after it fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried – the voice of the quacking duck (not in Japan though) for tweeting jokes about the earthquake and tsunami that has rocked Japan and its poor people. God bless them.
Here’s a brief statement from Aflac’s news release. “Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” Michael Zunda, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
What a jerk – Gottfried that is!
I feel for Zunda, but he should know better. There are thousands of voiceover talents that could nail that Aflac quack for far less dough.
How would you like to have a ‘spokesduck’ voice like Gottfried making jokes about a cataclysmic event that killed nearly 2,500 people to date and projections are that possibly 10,000 are feared dead. And, tens of thousands are homeless.
Again, what a jerk!
And, how about this fact? Aflac, does 75% of its business in Japan!!
- “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.’”
- “Japan called me. They said ‘maybe those jokes are a hit in the U.S., but over here, they’re all sinking.'”
- “I was talking to my Japanese real estate agent. I said ‘is there a school in this area.’ She said ‘not now, but just wait.'”
I’m sure Aflac is a class act company. In fact, they’re giving the International Red Cross 100 million yen (U.S. $1.2 million) to aid in disaster relief. However, this ‘brand stain’ could have/should have been avoided because Gottfried has a history of classless behavior.
For example (per the New York Times), three weeks after 9/11 at a Friars Club roast for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, Gottfried said that he had tried to catch a plane but couldn’t get a direct flight because “they said they have to stop off at the Empire State Building.”
Again, what a jerk!
Any parent will tell you that no one can babysit their kids like them. No matter how terrific their parents or neighbors are to their kids, parents do it better.
Similarly, no one can babysit your brand like you can – remember that.
For me, when it comes to spokespeople, give me a Frank Perdue of Perdue Chicken – or someone like him – any old day! Silent mascots like Mickey Mouse work wonders too!
P.S.: Hey, if you’re looking for a job and can quack like the Aflac duck, there is nationwide casting call to find a new voice of the iconic spokesbird! True.
P.S.S.: See interesting slideshow of top Celebrity Spokesperson Fiascos.