Geico Announcer Loses Job By Voicing Opinion
What began as a simple, private voice-mail message expressing concern over gay and racial slurs turned into a massive smear campaign that ended up costing Los Angeles voiceover actor D.C. Douglas a lucrative gig as a Geico announcer.
Upset by some recent personal and derogatory comments made by FreedomWorks Tea Party members about Congressman Barney Frank and John Lewis during the Health Care Reform debate, Douglas left his opinions on their company voice mail and included his phone number.
-- See salaries for jobs at Geico.
"I called as a private citizen to make a complaint," Douglas said. "Racism and homophobia are my Achilles' heel, but unfortunately my message included inappropriate words and I am sorry for that. However, telling their members to harass my employer to get me fired is an egregiously disproportionate response to my actions."
It seems that Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, the conservative lobbying firm headed by ex-Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, listened to the message and researched Douglas, finding out from his Facebook page that he had just recorded the Geico "Shocking News" campaign. Kibbe then posted Douglas' message, home phone number and web address, as well as Geico's business line number, in a blog post on biggovernment.com. Kibbe instructed readers to "Feel free to contact (him) ... call his employer too. Let them know that you ... are now in the market for car insurance."
Douglas was immediately deluged with angry voice-mail messages and so many emails that his site was overwhelmed and overloaded. His Wikipedia page was vandalized."There were death threats, and the vast majority of the emails were filled with hate that didn't exactly fall in line with good Christian beliefs," he said. However, four people out of hundreds did say they didn't agree with him, but they didn't believe in the damaging actions of their fellow Tea Party members.
While no sticks and stones broke his bones, words definitely hurt him. The day after Kibbe posted his blog encouraging members to complain to Geico about their announcer, Geico held auditions to replace Mr. Douglas' voice on the campaign.
"Geico made a quick corporate decision to drop me from the campaign 10 hours after Matt Kibbe's blog post appeared," Douglas said. "Mind you, I don't blame Geico. They shouldn't have to take on an angry mob over an anonymous voice-over guy. They have a business to run and can't waste time getting caught up in FreedomWorks' circus. And they've been very good to me in the past."
Douglas believes his connection to Geico, a company already on FreedomWorks' boycott list for pulling their ads from Glenn Beck's show, is the main reason he was targeted so forcefully. "Matt Kibbe couldn't care less who I am," said Douglas, explaining that he believes Kibbe just wanted to bring more negative attention to Geico for discontinuing their advertising support of Beck.
The irony is, according to Douglas, that he shares some political beliefs with Kibbe's FreedomWorks. "Even I'm for abolishing income tax and going with a progressive VAT," he said, adding that FreedomWorks is basically striving for "lower taxes, less government and more freedom."
"So how do they achieve (that) by getting me dropped from a Geico campaign? They don't," he concluded.
-- Watch The Daily Show's parody Geico Fires Voice Actor
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.