When you hear SeaWorld, you think of killer whales — for better or worse.
As of Tuesday Nov 10, SeaWorld Entertainment has cancelled its famous orca shows.
Since its opening in the 1960s, SeaWorld Entertainment centered its brand associations with its main attraction — theatrical orca shows. But after trainer Dawn Brancheau was drowned by the 12,000-pound orca she trained and cared for, SeaWorld took a damaging hit.
The release of the documentary “Blackfish” in 2013 dragged SeaWorld’s name further through the mud and triggered declining memberships and negative brand association.
SeaWorld released this video to combat the criticism of “Blackfish.”
It’s clear that the numbers prompted SeaWorld to finally cancel the contentious orca shows. SeaWorld lost $25.4 million in the last quarter of 2014, according to The Dodo. Stock fell 50 percent in 2014 following “Blackfish.”
SeaWorld released this statement: “Going forward, park employees—now called ambassadors—will be paid to spend time engaging with guests as part of the park’s push to connect with the community and build conversation into its brand….engagement days will be spent supporting rescues, educations and preservation.”
I think that focusing on education and promoting awareness of endangered species and what we can do to keep them healthy is the right stance for SeaWorld. However, I do think that their response time was much too slow. The trainer died in 2010, “Blackfish” was released in 2013, and only now is SeaWorld taking notable action.
What do you think of SeaWorld’s PR response?