The Aflac Duck Gets His Voice Back

There’s a lesson in all of this, I’m sure. Namely, if you’re going to be a national spokesperson for an insurance company and Tweet incredibly insensitive jokes far too soon after a gigantic tragedy, you’ll probably be replaced by a father of three from the heart of America.

This past March, comedian Gilbert Gottried was fired by Aflac after 11 years of voicing the vocabulary-limited Aflac duck due to statements he made via Twitter within hours of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Side Note: Japan produces about 75% of Aflac’s revenue.

So who is this great new voice of the Aflac duck?

Daniel McKeague – a 36-year-old father of three from Hugo, Minnesota – who beat out 12,500 other people all vying to replace Gilbert Gottfried. The radio personality for KQRS in Minneapolis uploaded a 30-second clip of himself to the Aflac website, then followed it up with a more formal video audition.

McKeague, who says he’s known for doing silly voices, was given the word about his new gig early Tuesday.

“Whenever that ad would come on I would imitate the duck and the kids loved it,” said McKeague, whose children are 5, 8 and 11.

Aflac Chief Marketing Officer Michael Zuna says the company and its longtime advertising agency, The Kaplan Thaler group, first winnowed the contestants to a short list of about 50, which they cut to 8 and finally to 3 — none of them celebrities. Contestants had to be able to convey a range of emotion within the single word “Aflac” and submit to an extensive background check.

After again listening to the three finalists, Executives chose McKeague due to his range and ability to embody the duck.

“We thought he was the best by far. I can’t explain to you why. It just was. Maybe it is part of the mystique of the Aflac duck,” said Dan Amos, Chairman and CEO of Aflac.

He gets a one-year contract in the low six figures that the company said will likely be renewed for several years.