Posted: April 21, 2015, 3:10 p.m.
by Ana Vega.
It’s been nearly two years since the “Blackfish” documentary was released that tore apart SeaWorld’s image. But that isn’t the only PR disaster the entertainment company has faced within its 56 years of existence. With incidents from whale fighting during a live show (1989), nearly drowning a trainer (2006) and its most recent disaster of killing a trainer, Dawn Brancheau, I believe it’s safe to say that maybe Willy wasn’t the only one that should have been freed.
But then again, who’s to say that all whales are dangerous? Or is it the trainers who are the dangerous ones? “Blackfish” dove further into the harsh treatment of SeaWorld’s animals and said that the reason for the whales lashing out isn’t because they are dangerous creatures, but because of how they are treated.
The results from the documentary were pretty harsh to say the least. Multiple top artists, including Martina McBride, Willie Nelson and more, cancelled their shows that were to be held at the theme park, which left SeaWorld’s stock down 50 percent from the previous year. Of course, the company denied the accuracy of the film, but that didn’t stop the decrease in attendance.
Now fast forward to 2015, and SeaWorld is still trying to come back from that disaster. The goal of the new “SeaWorld Cares: You Ask, We Answer” campaign is for the public to ask tough questions and receive a truthful response. The company is using Twitter as a main portal to show its transparency. With the hashtag #AskSeaWorld tracking questions, the company will later answer them on the AskSeaWorld.com website.
OK . . . that plan didn’t go over so well. As PR professionals, we all know that the public is willing to make a joke out of anything, including a basic hashtag. But don’t you worry — SeaWorld struck back by responding to negative remarks with name calling and referring to them as “trolls.” Good one, SeaWorld.
Not to mention, the Twitter chat hasn’t exactly helped the park make friends. In fact, the campaign has resurfaced the anger of many people who aren’t afraid to let SeaWorld know how they feel.
“Why do you LIE & tell guests collapsed dorsal fins are normal when only 1% suffer this in the wild?” PETA asked via Twitter. And not surprisingly, SeaWorld did not respond.
The company has been blasted by hundreds of tweets similar to the one above since this attempt to clean up its image began. I’m sorry, SeaWorld, but it looks like the roles have reversed, and you’re the one that is tanked now.