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Aflac Auditions Turn a Bad Joke Into Good Publicity

Steve Curcio during his audition. Photo: Marcus Yam for The New York Times

Aflac’s search for a new spokes-duck has gotten the insurance company some great publicity after what started as a PR problem.

You’ll remember, Gilbert Gottfried, the previous voice of the Aflac duck, was swiftly dismissed after making tasteless jokes online in the wake of the Japan quake and tsunami. That left a job opening, and led Aflac to open up the opportunity to anyone with a dream and an annoying voice.

Over the past two days, 650 people turned out for auditions in Atlanta, NY, Las Vegas, Chicago, LA, and Austin, TX, according to The New York Times, and another 11,200 submitted their auditions to the website. The Times story includes details about the New York audition, including a quote from an Aflac exec who reiterated the need to fire Gottfried.

Aflac has successfully taken the situation and turned it into a PR campaign that promotes the brand and uses its popular symbol to great effect. Once the voice is chosen out of the thousands who tried out, they’ll likely extend the outreach further with morning show appearances and big premieres of the new ads with the new voice.

We’ll place a bet that this will go down as a top PR moment for 2011.

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