ATLANTA -- Quick, make a sound resembling the Aflac duck in love.
Do you opt for a deep-voiced, seductive “Aflac” based on Barry White’s vocal stylings?
How about a high-pitched, flirty “Aflac” modeled after teenage infatuation?
Those questions dominated Tuesday’s Atlanta casting call for the new voice of the Aflac duck. The two-day event, held at Stilwell Casting, attracted about 150 hopefuls between Monday and Tuesday.
Participants scheduled appointments in advance on a first-come, first-served basis.
The setup was simple: Check in for your appointment, sit in a waiting room and prepare for your moment of truth.
When that moment arrives, you enter a studio-like setting, where you introduce yourself before debuting your best duck voice.
Then, you must adapt your Aflac squawk to a variety of emotions.
Among the challenges: sad duck, revenge duck, duck walking on a tightrope. And, of course, duck in love.
Oh yeah, your audition vocabulary is confined to “Aflac.”
“What Aflac is looking for is a person who can best convey a wide range of emotions using a single word,” said Jon Sullivan, external communications manager for Aflac.
How did auditioners fare under the pressure?
“Everything went real good. They were more cordial than I was expecting,” said Gary Goodman, 64, of Columbus.
The retired Atmos Energy worker came to the auditions with “duck” already on his resume. He’s held multiple local duck gigs, including a stint as the Astro Duck, the mascot for a former minor league baseball team in Columbus.
When we asked him a question, his voice unexpectedly morphed into what sounded like a version of Donald Duck.
Upon returning to his human voice, Goodman noted, “I can actually talk duck longer than I can talk like this.”
He wasn’t the only one referencing a Disney character.
While sitting in the waiting room, Leah Fowler of Villa Rica, Ga., described how her squeaky voice once attracted cartoon comparisons.
“When I was growing up, I was called Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse,” said Fowler, 28, a part-time legal assistant who is studying media communications.
Atlanta was one of six cities where aspiring Aflac ducks could audition in person. Online auditions, which are now closed, attracted more than 11,000 applications. In interviews, many Atlanta auditioners said they thought the in-person auditions would offer better sound quality.
“We had no idea who we were talking to on the telephone when we gave time slots,” said Annette Stilwell, owner and casting director of Stilwell Casting. “It’s an even playing field. They hear everybody.”
Last month, Gilbert Gottfried was fired after 11 years as the voice of the Aflac duck due to his Twitter posts making fun of the disaster in Japan. Aflac hopes to have a new voice chosen and working on a commercial spot by the end of the month.
Tuesday’s auditioners knew their faces wouldn’t necessarily be widely recognized if they got the gig. But they didn’t care.
Rey Versola, a 51-year-old Alpharetta, Ga., job-seeker with a background in sales and marketing, described the casting call as “kind of like ‘American Idol.’”
Sullivan, meanwhile, said the process showed him “what a big part of Americana the Aflac duck has become.”
“When you have an icon like that, people just want to be a part of it,” he said.
Sonya Sorich, 706-571-8516.