I applaud SeaWorld’s new ad campaign and the fundamental changes the company has embraced.
As its print ad states: “There’s no dancing around this subject. A lot has happened since SeaWorld introduced the world to the orca over 50 years ago. We witnessed a tremendous evolution as orcas went from being feared and hated to being one of the most beloved marine mammals on the planet. So just as the world has changed, SeaWorld is changing with it. We’ve made two of the biggest announcements in our history.”
SeaWorld will no longer breed orca whales in captivity. The current orcas will be the last generation at SeaWorld.
The theatrical shows involving orcas will be phased out.
It’s also smart and altruistic for SeaWorld to align itself with groups such as the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Humane Society, as it did in an op-ed page ad in The New York Times on June 9. The headline: “It’s Time for Humans to Stop Attacking Sharks.” The three partner organizations are collaborating to increase understanding of threat from the practice of “shark finning—the cruel practice of chopping off a shark’s fins while it is alive and then throwing the animal back into the ocean to die.”
Sometimes a communications crisis is the result of societal change, and that change forces you to rethink your business model. SeaWorld has done this, and I think the company has a bright future. What do you think?
I’ll be delving into this in greater detail in my upcoming book, Brand Under Fire: Crisis Communication in the Age of Digital.