By: Jillian Barcia

SeaWorld tries but fails in launching a multimillion-dollar campaign with the hopes to improve their constantly dwindling reputation. Through mainly Twitter, SeaWorld had the hopes of improving their reputation by starting a campaign that allows consumers to learn more about them as a brand, and ask them questions nonetheless.

This campaign was a huge #SocialFail for more ways than one. After Netflix documentary, “Black Fish,” was published, SeaWorld had a lot of explaining to do to the public, its consumers and animal lovers everywhere. This is where the #AskSeaWorld twitter campaign started.

From the start of the #AskSeaWorld campaign, AdWeek followed the new hashtags that came from this and they included, #EmptyTheTanks and #AnswerTheQ. These were created to backfire the lack of responses that consumers were receiving in this campaign.

When one searches the #AskSeaWorld hashtag on Twitter, you find aggravated consumers not getting the truth behind the answers they are asking. In result of this, consumers tweeted back in rebellion, extorting the whole campaign, as well as refusing to purchase tickets, and therefore having SeaWorld sales plummet at record-breaking speeds.

New York Times researches that SeaWorld has lost sales by 2 percent, with a net income decreasing to 85 percent to $5.8 million.

This Twitter campaign was a poorly planned and thought out one, ultimately causing it to be a #SocialFail. Its mediocre attempt at trying to engage with upset consumers did not seem heartfelt, and therefore caused a major downfall in credibility.

Along with the public and consumers being upset, SeaWorld also had to tackle the ever mouthful, PETA, when trying to make any negative publicity stop. On Peta’s blog, it states, “In a desperate attempt to repair its image, SeaWorld recently launched a Twitter campaign encouraging followers to send in questions using #AskSeaWorld. The campaign totally backfired, and tweets from caring people like YOU have been pouring in.”

PETA struck again when Associate Director, Elisa Allen, spoke to the Daily Mail UK. She was reported stating, “Caring people everywhere jumped at the opportunity to ask the ‘abusement park’ why it continues to imprison orcas in tiny chlorinated tanks, forcing them to perform ridiculous tricks for food.”

Through this horrible representation of social media, the Vice President of Communications for SeaWorld, Fred Jacobs came out with a statement. He explains how the campaign was meant to emphasis the 50-year commitment that SeaWorld has to its animals. Jacobs wanted to set the record straight about the false accusations about SeaWorld.

Later in 2015, SeaWorld came out with a series of public service announcements in regards to the so-called “rumors” being said about them. Here, SeaWorld had different trainers speaking out about how they treat the animals. In addition, they explain how they are allowing them to live a longer and happier life while in the SeaWorld facilities.

Who knows if this changed the minds of the public, consumers and animal lovers everywhere. All that is clear, is that the Netflix documentary caused them havic for the brand. Following this, their use of Twitter for the #AskSeaWorld campaign caused the problem to get worse if anything, resulting in a major #SocialFail.

SeaWorld will have to come up with a better tactic next time if they want to change the public’s perspective of their brand. Hopefully they learn from the numerous mistakes made in their 2015 Twitter campaign.

 

References:

‘Ask SeaWorld’ campaign fails to stop attendance from sinking. (2015, August 06). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://nypost.com/2015/08/06/new-ad-campaign-fails-to-stop-seaworlds-sinking-attendance/
Coffee, P. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Reputation Campaign Fails Miserably. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/askseaworld-reputation-campaign-fails-miserably/111686
Johnson, K. (2015, March 31). #AskSeaWorld Campaign’s Epic Fail. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.peta2.com/blog/ask-seaworld-twitter-fail/
Pemberton, B. (2015, March 20). ‘Are your tanks filled with orca tears?’: SeaWorld Twitter campaign backfires as marine park hashtag #AskSeaWorld is hijacked by animal rights campaigners. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3019299/Are-tanks-filled-orca-tears-SeaWorld-Twitter-campaign-backfires-water-park-hashtag-AskSeaWorld-hijacked-animal-rights-campaigners.html
Sola, K. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Pretty Much Goes How You’d Expect. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/27/seaworld-twitter-fail_n_6950902.html
You Ask. We Answer. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://ask.seaworldcares.com/