Documentary leads to SeaWorld Counterattack
Published January 7, 2014 at 6:01 am
Heard of the documentary “Blackfish”? It’s been a pretty heavily talked about documentary ever since it hit screens, and the subject matter, concerning the way in which the popular entertainment resorts mistreat killer whales, has gained it near-unanimous praise on Rotten Tomatoes.
As one might expect, this is great news for the filmmakers, but not so great for SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., the company behind these shows that stands accused of abuse. How does a business try to manage the damage done by such an effort, especially when it comes from an acclaimed film that’s built up a steady buzz of information online?
The answer for SeaWorld is a campaign that seeks to clear up what it thinks are misconceptions about the way it treats its animals. It comes in response to some high-profile criticism of its practices from some bands like Heart and the Barenaked Ladies, who were originally booked to perform at SeaWorld, and has included print ads in major newspapers.
Is there a way to launch this kind of “counterattack” without simply seeming as defensive, or like the business has something to hide? Jim Atchison, the CEO of the company, pulled no punches in his estimation of the movie, at least in conversation with Bloomberg Businessweek.
“The film is a misleading bit of animal rights propaganda and I would not consider it a documentary worth watching,” he said.
No one wants to be seen as condemning the press or filmmakers for expressing honest curiosity, but there’s a tough balancing act to walk to encourage these things while still showing a positive face for your brand. Whatever your company does in this situation, it needs to seem sincere and contrite in order to keep the public on your side.