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Aflac audition should be easy as duck soup

From the archive: This story is more than 10 years old.


Aflac audition should be easy as duck soup

Tom's ready to take a quack at it

I could be a contender.

For years I've been entertaining friends and relatives (well, entertaining myself, at least) with my talent as a duck-talker. And now, thanks to Gilbert Gottfried, I may have a chance to take my quackery to the big time.

As you probably know, Gottfried used to be the voice of the Aflac duck. It was a sweet gig, requiring only that he quack out an occasional "Aflac!" in his annoyingly grating voice, when the script called for it. No great skill required, so the job was a perfect fit for Gottfried.

Unfortunately, he couldn't be satisfied with that. When Japan got hit by a horrific earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people and caused a still-unfolding nuclear disaster, Gottfried was moved to comedy. He decided to share his insights on the disaster by posting jokes on Twitter.

One of the milder ones: "Japan called me. They said, 'maybe these jokes are a hit in the US, but over here they're all sinking."

They weren't that much of a hit in the U.S., either — although some other comedians defended his right to push the envelope of good taste. In the face of general outrage, Gottfried deleted his tweets and apologized for his lack of timing and sensitivity.

However, that wasn't enough to save his job as spokesduck for Aflac, which does a lot of business in Japan. And on March 14, they fired him.

Aflac began running its commercials again this week with a silent-film version of its mascot. That's just a stopgap measure though. With a job posting and a new website, the company has launched a nationwide search for a six-figure-a-year quackster.

"Show us how you can communicate an entire vocabulary in one word: Aflac," the website says. The company is looking for someone with a "collaborative spirit, especially when it comes to working with ducks."

Me, me, me, meeeee!

I'm not a natural-born talent as a quacker. In fact, I discovered my gift late in life during a vacation stay in the White Mountains of Arizona. The cabin where we stayed was next to a lake, and there were always ducks on or near the lake.

One of them, a white bird with a crack in his beak, hung around the porch of our cabin begging for pieces of bread. We became very fond of "Cracked Bill," as we called him, and I spent a lot of time practicing duck-talk with him.

Our conversations never touched on Aflac, but I did become fluent in "want some bread, Cracked Bill?" To which he would reply happily, "Quack!" 

Unfortunately, my actual duck-talking tends to sound mainly like an angry duck. I need Clarence "Ducky" Nash, the voice of Donald Duck, to teach me how to work words into my duck sounds. Or Mel Blanc, who made Daffy Duck utter the immortal "You're de-e-eshpic-able!"

Fortunately, all I have to do is learn to say "Aflac!" by March 31, when auditions start in several cities around the country.

I'll be ready.

Originally posted at

Job description

From Aflac's website:

About the job:

Our business is about being there for people in need. So, ask yourself—are you the duck? If so, there's a home—and a flourishing career—for you as the Aflac Duck.

This position will be integral to forging Aflac's voice in all manner of communications. In this role you will create innovative ways to use one word to convey that, without Aflac, no insurance coverage is complete.


  • Create innovative and original quacking that helps consumers understand how Aflac is different from major medical.
  • Strategically develop ways for the word "Aflac" to communicate that the company's insurance provides a financial safety net for families.
  • Translate complex messages into a single word that tells people, "Aflac is the insurance company that they can count on in their time of need."
  • Provide exceptional and creative use of the word "Aflac" for advertising in television, websites and other marketing communications.
  • Embody the spirit of caring and ethics that Aflac is known for, both in and out of the recording studio.

Special skills:

  • Requires correct pronunciation of the word Aflac.
  • Must be able to present complex information clearly and concisely into an effective reading of the word "Aflac."
  • Ability to improvise.
  • Skilled at making people laugh.
  • Unique and memorable voice.
  • Bilingual skills (English Duck, and Spanish Duck).
  • Prior acting and voiceover experience is preferred but not required.

Core competencies:

  • Inspires trust and behaves ethically.
  • Customer centric.
  • Collaborative spirit, especially when it comes to working with ducks.
  • Creative.

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