Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Antidaephobia strikes again

Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you. Gary Larson dreamed it up for one of his Far Side cartoons. Until last week no one actually had it, but now life has imitated art.

Once upon a time there was an obscure insurance company called American Family Life Assurance Company (of Columbus). In 1999 they realized that their acronym of AFLAC sounded like a duck quacking, so they began making commercials featuring a duck. They insure one of four Japanese households.

For TV commercials in the United States the duck was voiced by comedian Gilbert Gottfried. In the aftermath of the tsunami, Mr. Gottfried posted some jokes on Twitter. The insurer thought his comments very were insensitive, and on March 14th AFLAC fired him.

Now Mr. Gottfried probably has anatidaephobia. The next guy selected to do the voice for the duck definitely will have it. The moral of this story is to think before you tweet about business-related matters. Someone in management might not have your sense of humor.

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