Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And if you try to spin off that Pigeon, someone's going to get hurt, AFLAC

Remember when the AFLAC duck was kind of a cute concept? It was back in 2000- that's right, during the CLINTON ADMINISTRATION- that the duck made it's first appearance, trying to remind a guy sitting on a park bench what the name of that company that provides him and his coworkers supplemental insurance was called. It was mildly amusing and maybe even a little bit clever- "AFLAC" sounds sort of like a duck's quack. Decent idea. Well done, AFLAC.

Thirty commercials later (seriously- according to Wikipedia, there have been more than thirty separate commercials featuring the duck) it's not a decent idea anymore. It's not at all cute. It's--- hmm, what's that phrase I'm trying to think of? The one that applies to the Geico lizard and those god-awful, Also Amusing for a Commercial or Two But Please Stop Now Cavemen? Oh yeah- PLAYED.

But even "played" doesn't really describe my reaction to this latest AFLAC commercial. I mean, "played" can be used to describe Ray Ray Johnson ("you can call me Ray, or you can call me....") back in the 70s (or was it the 80s?) "Played" also fits when discussing Punch Dub Days, "Here We Go" Bud Lite Commercials, and those stunningly unfunny fake "press conferences" featuring the choads who shout questions about beer to long-retired NFL coaches. It's a real understatement to describe the continued presence of a computer-generated duck quacking "AFLAC" when put in that context, isn't it? (And don't get me started on the break-dancing. Just don't.)

We are on the verge of another season of NFL football, which means the insurance commercials will be coming at us in larger quantities than usual. Is it too much to ask, AFLAC, that you dump the duck and come up with a new concept sometime before the Patriots win the Superbowl in February? It would be much appreciated.

Because this duck thing....seriously. Enough, already.

Oh, and Bud Lite? Enough with the "press conferences," too. Never clever. Not even once.


  1. Mmm. I wouldn't call the gecko "played," as there's a lot more that the geico people could do with that character--it's just that they're not doing it. Similarly, I think that if the aflac people branched out a little more with the duck, gave him more personality, etc. their commercials would be better. Both the gecko and the duck are high-recognition mascots, and I think it's a better idea to revitalize them than to throw them away.

  2. I thought the duck was cute when it was just a duck in the park. Then it was walking into barber shops, restaurants, offices, etc- and suddenly it no longer made any sense that people would not notice this duck hanging around. I sure don't want AFLAC to be giving this duck "more personality"- once it acts like a person, what is the point anymore?

    And the Geico Gecko-- ugh, whatever. I saw a commercial featuring this thing last year in which it was implied that we are supposed to care what country the cartoon creature "comes from." Seriously?

  3. Agreed, John. But the problem is, mascots get exploited until the basically explode. The energizer bunny certainly lasted as long as it could, but the initial joke (taking off on the cymbal-clapping monkeys of famous Duracell commercials, unless I'm mistaken) wore on tirelessly, until the original meaning was long-lost. The problem with AFLAC is that its voice was supplied by Gilbert Gottfriend who made a coarse joke about Japanese tidal wave victims and was summarily fired. Since then, there's been a need to prove that the AFLAC duck can be ever cuter and cuter (even with a lack-luster replacement voice).
    Let's hear it for Pop-n-Fresh, the Keebler Elves, Tony-the-Tiger, and all the other mascots who sold us goods at a healthy markup.

  4. Let us also shed a tear for the beloved mascots of yesteryear like Speedy AlkaSeltzer, "You're soaking in it" Josephine from the Palmolive ads and Mr Whipple. Corny as they were, they were a lot easier to take than any number of talking animals.