Tuesday, September 10, 2002

AFLAC squawks over 'Taft Quack' ads

Company complains to Democratic candidate

By Spencer Hunt shunt@enquirer.com
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS - An insurance company that uses a talking duck to sell its health plan is squawking over Internet ads by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan.

        Lawyers for American Family Life Assurance Company wrote Mr. Hagan a letter last week saying his “TaftQuack” character is too similar to its corporate mascot, the AFLAC duck.

        The animated waterfowl shouts out “AFLAC!” the Georgia-based company's acronym, in television commercials. Mr. Hagan's ads at www.taftquack.com feature Gov. Bob Taft's face, sporting an orange bill instead of a nose, on the body of a white duck. The bird shouts “Taft quack!” several times in two ads - one of which was unveiled this morning.

        “They're concerned that the duck looks like the AFLAC duck, and about its (white) color,” said Jerry Austin, Mr. Hagan's campaign manager. “They say "Taft quack' sounds like AFLAC.”

        Mr. Austin said the campaign never intended to violate trademark or copyright laws and that he's willing to make changes to satisfy the company. Kathelen Spencer, a company spokeswoman, said the company is concerned about protecting its investment in its brand name.

        “The AFLAC duck was created with the sole purpose of selling insurance, not to help or hurt a political candidate,” Ms. Spencer said.

        She acknowledged that news of her company's concerns, which the campaign announced Monday, would spur more people to visit Mr. Hagan's Web site.

        “We've not sought to make this public, but we're certainly willing to do what's required to protect our brand name,” Ms. Spencer said.

        With only $1 for every $14 Mr. Taft can spend on his campaign, Mr. Hagan decided last month to forgo television ads. He instead offers two ads at the Web site.

        The first ad is Mr. Hagan's rebuttal to a commercial Mr. Taft is airing. The second, unveiled today, features the TaftQuack character “ducking” questions.


Priest under investigation resigns
Overheated schools send students home early
- AFLAC squawks over 'Taft Quack' ads
Restrictions tighten on foreign students
City wants vandalized flags flying again
List of local 9-11 events
NY churches comfort, listen
Parents, widow help build home in memory of 9-11 victim
RADEL: Children's views have changed
PULFER: Simple test of leadership for council
Two officers shot at while on patrol
New art center taking shape
CPS board to buy land for 2 schools
Good News: Riverfront Classic returns
Obituary: Trumpet player began local German band
Teen was going 93 mph at crash, patrol says
Three-car crash injures driver
Wrong-way car on I-275 wreaks havoc
Air Force medics train at University Hospital
Baby sitter indicted in injury to infant
Butler Co. weighs library need vs. cost
Deal to drop dancer's charges is off
Ex-trustees fighting for Fox interchange
Local firefighters win softball tournament
Police arrest suspect in second bank chase
Social services to offer help number
CROWLEY: Davis gets some campaign help
Few problems at Oktoberfest
Ky. treasurer touts credit bill
Obituary: Tumor didn't slow Fort Mitchell woman
Park Hills becomes fall garden spot
Water taxi offers ride for next home game
Alexandria sewers topic of workshop
Campus disclosure law easier than expected
Superintendents told funding cuts coming
Tuition rising slightly more than Ky. incomes
UK freshman class biggest in its history