A Minnesota father of three was selected as the new voice of the Aflac duck, beating out 12,500 other contenders to replace comedian Gilbert Gottfried.
Winner Dan McKeague of Hugo, Minn., is a radio sales manager for radio stations KQRS and Love 105 in Minneapolis and has experience doing voice-over work.
The supplemental health insurance and disability insurance company launched a month-long search after firing Gottfried for making jokes about the tsunami in Japan, where Aflac does a large share of its business. Casting agents reviewed online submissions and held live auditions in six cities. Applicants included celebrities, actors, professional voice-over artists and amateurs--both kids and adults.
McKeague submitted an online audition and was one of 20 semi-finalists called back for a second audition. That group then was whittled to eight before his selection, announced April 26. The company said it sought someone who could not only voice the duck, but could also represent the ethical values and philanthropy embraced by its employees and agents. McKeague is vice president for the board of directors of the non-profit Children's Safety Centers in St. Paul, which provides safe havens for children to hold supervised visits with non-custodial relatives.
"I have long admired people who can act and make the most of their voice and have tried to emulate them," McKeague said in a statement. "I want to thank Aflac for the incredible honor of voicing the greatest icon in corporate America and representing a company that not only leads its industry but also leaves a positive social imprint in every community it serves."
His debut as the duck voice is featured in Aflac's latest commercial, "Pigeon," which is posted on the insurer's website and the Aflac duck's Facebook page.
"Dan impressed us with his vocal range and acting ability," Aflac Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Zuna said in a statement. "He understands that he is making marketing history representing our company."
Since 2000, the Aflac duck has appeared in 52 television insurance ads and numerous radio ads to increase the company's brand recognition from slightly more than 10 percent to 93 percent. It is also a symbol for the company's efforts to raise money for the treatment and research of childhood cancer.