One word. So much meaning.
So much money.
Hundreds of people are driving sometimes thousands of miles to audition for the new voice of the Aflac duck. Auditions are taking place in six cities: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin and Las Vegas. More than 11,000 people have already submitted auditions online (and casting agents have already combed through 8,000 of those).
Gilbert Gottfried had the gig for 11 years, and given all the SAG residuals he's earned through 52 television ads and even more radio ads, well, quacking made him a lot of money. But Gottfried lost the job, as you may have heard, by doing what ducks sometimes do—biting the hand that feeds him. He made some distasteful jokes after the Japanese quake, and Aflac fired him. Most of Aflac's revenues come from Japan.
Knowing that Gottfried had what Aflac is calling "America's best job," other celebrities are auditioning in hopes of reeling in the easiest money they'll ever make. Names I've heard include Jeff Foxworthy, Norm MacDonald, Andrew Dice Clay, and Richard Lewis.
And then there's Chad Myers from San Dimas, a claims adjuster who came with his two daughters to try out today. Hey, he already knows insurance! Or Jeffrey Rupp, a civil engineer who showed up in a duck costume.
Kate Enggren shakes her head.
"It's been insane," says the casting agent running the LA auditions.
Enggren explains that everyone can say, "Aflac!", but not everyone can tell a story by saying one word different ways, mixing in quacking and squawking sounds. "That's the hard part, the other noises," says James Reese, who coached auditioners through their two-minute shot at fame and fortune. People don't always know how to quack...
Aflac hopes to have a winner picked by Easter and air the first ad by the end of April. Will it be a celebrity or a newcomer? Celebrities have an edge, but they also have a potential downside. Pick someone too famous and Aflac ends up buying into that star's brand as well as its own, which may not be good for selling insurance.
Check out the video, it is a sampling of some of the LA auditions, along with Kate Enggren describing what Aflac is looking for...and how it's even taking over her dreams....
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