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Advertising can be deceptive. The point, after all, is to sell you something. Zoos and circuses, for example, are adept at showing animals that appear to be “healthy” and “happy,” using ad slogans like “the happiest show on earth” and other misleading catch phrases.  Of course, we know that these wild animal spectacles are anything but fun for the animals involved.

The case for marine parks like SeaWorld is no different. Following the release of Blackfish, SeaWorld has been scrambling to convince people it cares about animals. Despite these efforts, its revenues went down three percent last year and the CEO resigned. Despite SeaWorld’s best efforts, people are still shunning the theme park due to its treatment of animals.

Multiple law suits were recently filed against SeaWorld on the grounds that the park was purposefully lying about the condition of the orcas and giving false statements to mislead consumers into visiting the park. It seems the orcas aren’t as happy to be forced to perform tricks as the commercials may show.

SeaWorld hopes to combat this bad publicity with its own ad campaign and efforts to improve the physical appearance of its parks, but these efforts are last ditch attempts that show the organization is scrambling to survive.

Turning a Fish Bowl Into a Bathtub

One of SeaWorld’s recent tactics is to build larger enclosures for the orcas. The first enclosure will be built in the California park and will be one and a half acres with a finish date of 2018. It will also include a “fast water current” for the orcas to swim against – an orca treadmill of sorts.

While at first glance this enclosure may seem like an improvement, it is a small step that does little to help the orcas. It is like moving them from a kiddie pool to an adult pool, while the pool is bigger, it’s still not the ocean. Keep in mind that orcas can weigh up to ten tons and be more than twenty feet long; the only environment appropriate for that big of an animal is the ocean. Just imagine living your entire life in a tiny New York City studio apartment without ever going outside and you might have an idea of how the orcas feel.

“Behind-the-Scenes” Advertising

On top of their laughable enclosure expansions, SeaWorld is also using an expensive advertising campaign to convince consumers how great the marine parks are.

The campaign includes multiple approaches such as print and YouTube videos. The focus of the campaign is to show how the park works to care not only for their captive animals but also for those in the wild. Perhaps if they cared about them so much they wouldn’t trap and confine them.

The videos mainly focus on “behind-the-scenes” looks of the veterinarians taking care of the animals. The veterinarians will also be featured in newspaper ads and a TV campaign planned to launch in spring. SeaWorld claims these ads show the “reality” of what they do, when they are nothing more than fantasy and fiction.
An example of one of their YouTube videos can be seen below:


This video goes through all the ways SeaWorld takes care of the orcas, including monthly doctor visits and enrichment activities to challenge their brains. They even imply that they take better care of them than you do your dog, since he or she doesn’t see the doctor monthly. What they fail to mention is none of this would be necessary if the orcas were left in the oceans and that the point of all this care and “enrichment” is to use them for human entertainment. After all, in the ocean there is no need for toys to entertain them.

Transparency or More Smoke and Mirrors?

SeaWorld also launched a social media campaign recently called “Ask SeaWorld.” This campaign allowed people to ask the park’s vets and trainers any question and get an answer. Unfortunately for SeaWorld, most of those people ended up being animal rights activists and critics of their parks who took over the campaign and turned it into another news story about the problems with SeaWorld.

When the best ad company that money can buy can’t put a positive spin on your organization, it might be time to give it up. Hopefully, SeaWorld will continue to have declining revenues that force it to close so all its captive animals can live happier lives without having to perform.

Image source: Flickr

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0 comments on “Empty the Tanks! SeaWorld’s Comical Efforts to Redeem Their Reputation”

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3 Years Ago

The reality is, rehab and release is a bad idea as proved by Keiko, and sea pens are a bad idea for many reasons: (1) the animals live in seawater filtered with ozone (NOT chemicals). Their immune systems wouldn’t be able to take the bacteria in unfiltered seawater. (2) the new environment with noise from boats would likely cause them stress. (3) the animals would have to be gender-segregated. (4) who would provide the valuable oceanside property? I often see people suggesting stopping the breeding and phasing out captivity, but that would still mean gender segregation, including mothers from sons. In reality, you are not pushing for the best thing for the animals, you are pushing for what makes you feel good.

Specific to the article, I thought the tanks were already bathtubs? An adult human cannot move in a bathtub. An adult killer whale can really move in a pool at SeaWorld.

What did the animal rights activists do? Present arguments inspired by Blackfish, meaning emotional manipulation, anthropomorphism, and lies?

You guys are funny.

3 Years Ago

Lets look at what sea world has
Whales- Protected
Dolphins- Protected and laws passed to remove gil nets
Seals- Protected
Sea Lions - Protected

The truth is when people can actually see what is in the oeacn they are much more likely to protect the species. Take away seaworld and you take away the chance of million of kids to see a dolphin or a whale, so why would the want to protect them

06 May 2015

I read something like that and have to wonder if you\'re serious. According to your analogy the only people who want to protect dolphins or whales are those who have seen them. That is a lame excuse that never had merit to begin with. It isn\'t being "entertained" that causes people to want to protect animals, it is being informed. Seaworld and all the others do not inform. Funny, i have never seen one in real life (i.e. not on t.v. or in the movies) and yet I have had a burning desire to protect them for decades......and I am not alone. Start thinking for yourself, and use some common sense,.....maybe you\'ll startle yourself.

3 Years Ago

The thing they never mention is how much good sea world does. They have a whole back area where they do animal rescues and research. The parks service as funding for that. They do a lot more good than harm, and it saddens me that people can\'t see that.

30 Apr 2015

So if I kidnap you and you have to live the remainder of your life in a 10x10 room it would be perfectly acceptable... as long as I charged my friends a few dollars to watch you and than sent the money to feed hungry children?
I admit, that\'s pretty GD noble of you. If only the whales had a chance to say whether or not they feel that way too.

3 Years Ago

OMG leave poor Sea World alone. Nothing but propaganda and bleeding hearts will fall right in the net like their fish do. Stupid is as stupid does.

30 Apr 2015

"poor Seaworld"? This is a multi-million dollar company we\'re talking about here. Do you really think they can still care about the things that are most important if they lose money? Even if you are just feeling sorry for SeaWorld these enormous, intelligent animals shouldn\'t be kept in captivity.
I know this comment won\'t change your mind on the issue.
because.....You Can\'t Fix Stupid.

Joey Racano
3 Years Ago

Seaworld Sinking

Seaworld’s new commercials
They are a testament
To how the orcas have to swim
In their own excrement

They never seemed to care before
The ship was going down
But now they’ve got a PR push
That’s showing all around

We really love our orcas
They have the nerve to say
But who told them the orcas were
Owned by them anyway?

There hasn’t been much justice
In our world as of late
But watching Seaworld’s desperation
Makes me feel just great!

So now it’s time to show us
That you mean what you say
Let the orcas go right now
Release them to the bay!

joey racano

28 Apr 2015

Shakespeare you\'re not. Save it bleeding heart. No one cares what you think

3 Years Ago

Why is everyone busting on Seaworld and not Disney. In case no one knows they have an entire park full of captive animals. It\'s called Animal Kingdom. Those animals are just as captive. Instead of running in Africa their stuck in a tiny yard for a few hours a day and then locked in cages at night. Their just as cruel yet no one brings that up.

Ayla Falcone
28 Apr 2015

because the animals in animal kingdom.. and most of the other animals in sea world actually are healthier and live longer than their wild counterparts. Orcas are one of the few animals that actually do worse in captivity

28 Apr 2015

So true Mya. There are plenty of places to complain about, but they won\'t let this one die already.

06 May 2015

So let me bust if that makes you happy and would help you get on side with the animals rather than the corporations....intelligent animals, especially those that form familial bonds, but all intelligent animals, should not be held captive. There are a few, a very few reserves/rescue parks that provide a needed service in rescuing animals man has taken from the wild that may no longer be able to survive in the wild. Under strict supervision they should be continued, the rest, RUN FREE, SWIM FREE, BE FREE. Zoos and animal parks of all kinds have outlived their usefulness. They should be permanently closed, otherwise how can we claim to be learning anything at all. CLOSE THEM ALL DOWN. Happy?

3 Years Ago

I\'m really really sick of this SeaWorld crap. Very annoying.

29 Apr 2015

Let\'s see how you do, take you from you home, your entire family. Fly you to another location train you endlessly, then force you to work the rest of your life for food. I\'m sure you would love it.

30 Apr 2015

The point of the latest sea world campaign was to show they have not taken anything from the wild in 35 years, despite what the show on CNN implies. Whales returned to the wild will die within a year. Is that what you want.

Gregory T.
3 Years Ago

We know enough about these animals to now realize they don\'t belong in tanks.

Jerry Friedman
3 Years Ago

I stopped going to SeaWorld as soon as I understood that it\'s jail for these animals who committed no crime. They don\'t want to be there, and they\'re dying, hurting, and going crazy. There is nothing SeaWorld can do to regain my patronage until they set its captives free.

3 Years Ago

My family has been visiting SeaWorld for years and will continue to do so. We actually take our children there and they LOVE it - THE HORROR! (Waiting for the lame, "The horror is what the orcas have to endure... blah blah blah" reply.) Save it - I\'m getting off of this lame site as soon as I\'m done here. And hey vegans, ask "One Green Planet" why they\'re allowing McDonald\'s to place banner ads all across their site. I absolutely LOVE the hypocrisy.

Jerry Friedman
28 Apr 2015

Craig, I LOVE the hypocrisy too! You and your family are free to live as you want, but you pay SeaWorld to deny the very same liberty to others—all for your amusement.

28 Apr 2015

Good for you Craig. The bleeding hearts and fanatical. Ridiculous even

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