I’m sure that by now you’ve heard of Gilbert Gottfried’s “resignation” from his position at AFLAC. For those of you who don’t know, Gottfried played voice to the lovable mascot, the AFLAC Duck. While I’m not a fan of that particular poultry (bad experience with a blind date back in ’74, she was way too greasy!) I felt some compassion for the story.
Gottfried, who has been the voice of AFLAC since the year 2000, made some poor personal decisions that went public very quickly. Following the Tsunami’s in Japan Gottfried decided to post some poor humored jokes on his twitter page and was in return “released” from his position. AFLAC maintains 75% of their business in Japan, therefore keeping Gottfried on as a team member could prove detrimental to their overseas partnerships.
I can’t help but wonder what he was thinking! When you’re a public figure, like an actor or a comedian, you’ve got to understand that there is an attention radar that follows you. Very few have been able to avoid this. Though your fans, friends and family may think your crude humor jokes are funny, there is no room for that kind of cruel humor at the expensive of the victims of this disaster..
From a Public Relations stand-point, AFLAC did exactly as they should have. Since starting up in 1955, AFLAC has become a fortune 500 company and has gained national recognition. In order to keep their name in high standings, they must monitor the behaviors of all who make up the company.
We deal with similar issues at Hen House. We work with clients who maintain social responsibility, hold similar morals to our own and who work with us towards a goal of helping spread a message. If one of our clients were to make a poor ethical decision, it would be in our best interest to discontinue our relationship. Being Socially Responsible is an integral part of professionalism in any industry.
This also raises a question about social media and the responsibility that it requires. There are professional and personal uses for social media. When you hold a position of pwer or celebrity, is it be possible to use social media at your leisure or is everything you post going to be a representation of your professional career? My opinion is that who you are in your personal life represents what you’d be like to work with professionally. As made evident by Gottfried, celebrities can hinder their own careers by poorly using social media.
Be careful out there!