AFLAC Duck Placed On Valium

The AFLAC duck is seen in an image released by the company Wednesday, May 7, 2003. AP

The AFLAC duck is going to Japan this month with a softer quack.

In commercials designed for the Japanese market, AFLAC has ditched comedian Gilbert Gottfried's abrasive quacking of the Columbus, Ga.-based insurance company's name.

Instead, a Japanese actor portrays the duck with a more soothing tone.

"The Japanese culture does not like to be yelled at," AFLAC spokeswoman Laura Kane said. "Gilbert might be a little over the top."

Gottfried's voice will remain in U.S. commercials, which have paired the duck with celebrities including Chevy Chase, Yogi Berra and Wayne Newton.

About 70 percent of AFLAC's income comes from the Japanese market, which brought in $7.6 billion in 2002. Its U.S. operations posted $2.6 billion in revenue for 2002.

While this campaign is the first to be shot specifically for Japan, it won't be Japan's first introduction to the AFLAC duck. In 2001, the company ran a commercial with dubbed voices for the actors and the duck.

The Japanese commercials, to run May 16, feature popular actors Akiko Yada and Yanagiba Toshiro trying to remember the name of the company. The duck, as is customary, quacks "AFLAC."

In Japan, the actors will talk directly to the duck, the company said, whereas in the American versions, the actors never notice the frustrated duck.

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