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AFLAC doesn’t have Twitter trouble, it has celebrity trouble

March 16, 2011

If you haven’t heard, AFLAC is getting flack because Gilbert Godfrey posted on Twitter some jokes. Here’s an example:

“Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them.”

It breaks many cardinal rules about jokes, the biggest: during a catastrophe is too soon to joke about it.

Anyway, amidst the furor, AFLAC fired him.

Now though, the story is that AFLAC has Twitter trouble.

Er. No.

AFLAC has celebrity troubles. They hired a comedian to be a spokesduck. The comedian was known as the guy who told a joke in New York about 911 two weeks after 911.

This isn’t any different from brands walking away from Tiger Woods after Tiger Woods crashed his SUV into a tree. The New York times didn’t write that Accenture has an SUV problem.

When a company hires a celebrity, they do it for a couple of reasons. The first is to piggyback on the celebrities appeal. Brands pay Kim Kardashian $25K per tweet. That’s cashing in on her appeal and reach.  The second is celebrities are good speakers. When a celeb comes into the studio to read the script, they often do a good job. Hire someone off the street, and that person might be cheaper, but they can’t ever bring the lines to life. Celebs can.

One suspects that AFLAC hired Godfrey because the quack sounded vaguely duck-like, and his memorable voice made the mnemonic stand out in people’s heads.

But really, this is a lot of news for a Duck. Which makes me think this was a planned reaction.

This over-reaction is calculated. AFLAC is in the news for the wrong reason, right now. But they are publicly after a new spokesduck. We’ll all get news reports on the new duck, and AFLAC will come away #winning because they look like they did the right thing. Oh, and when the new ad comes out, it will come out with news stories. About the new spokesduck.

Bigger point: this has almost nothing to do with Social Media, or Twitter, and everything to do with the risk of hiring a celebrity.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 18, 2011 7:03 pm

    i like it AFLAC doesn’t hold titter trouble, it has person of note trouble « population like to share now im your rss reader

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