Gilbert Gottfried once had a pretty sweet gig as the Aflac duck, but he blew it with some off-color jokes. That was years ago, yet the duck still sounds a lot like Gottfried. Who’s voicing it now? Here’s what we know.
Down Memory Lane
Fresh off the success of Aladdin, Gottfried lent his iconic voice to the Aflac duck starting in 2000. He appeared in numerous commercials over the next 11 years. He even appeared as himself alongside the duck in a memorable 2005 commercial.
The relationship between Gottfried and Aflac was rosy until March 2011. A tsunami hit Japan, causing catastrophic damage. Gottfried made a series of tasteless jokes at the victim’s expense. Then senior Vice President and chief marketing officer Michael Zuna relieved Gottfried: “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.”
Some criticized Aflac for its hypocrisy. Offensive jokes are still a core part of Gottfried’s routine, but Aflac didn’t mind until it affected their business. The firing didn’t phase Gottfried all that much, and he’s still getting work today.
Who Was Next?
While Gottfried was shown the door, the duck was here to stay. Aflac held a contest online to decide on the new voice. Advertising sales manager Daniel McKeague won, and his first ad aired in May 2011. Unlike Gottfried, he was a complete unknown out of Hugo, Minnesota. Here’s a CNN news story at the time.
This is all a bit odd because it’s clear Aflac didn’t want to move in a new direction. It essentially hired McKeague to do a Gottfried impression. Here’s one of his first ads from 2011.
Still Chugging Along
The duck is still the face of Aflac. Last year, it appeared in a commercial with Nick Saban and Deion Sanders. Aflac is a regular fixture at the Super Bowl, so we’ll have to wait and see what it gets up to next.
Gottfried’s duck shared screentime with the likes of Chevy Chase and Wayne Newton, so celebrity endorsements are nothing new. It’s strange to think that McKeague has now voiced the duck about as long as Gottfried did. 2022 marks 11 years with the company, so he’ll soon have beaten the Beverly Hills Cop 2 star’s record.