SeaWorld’s #AskSeaWorld Twitter Campaign Backfires Massively

Photo: RexUSA

SeaWorld, like many a big company with a horrible image
problem before it, took its case to the people via Twitter this week with an
#AskSeaWorld hashtag. And, like many a big company's Twitter campaign before
it, it was a failure almost instantly. Why is it that PR and marketing experts never seem to understand that the denizens of social media are not the same predictable masses
one can reach, say, via TV ads?

Since the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, and the
subsequent 2013 documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld has been struggling to
convince the public that their orcas are not mistreated. Animal rights groups,
along with many former trainers, have come out to say that the whales should
not be held in captivity at all. After years of this negative publicity, the
amusement park decided to launch a new campaign to "counter
misinformation." And part of that campaign was to throw this #AskSeaWorld
hashtag out there, promising answers from experts, which were then aggregated
on the company's website.

There followed some of the questions SeaWorld wanted
to answer, such as, "How do killer whales at SeaWorld help wild killer
whales?" and even, "What are the facts about rake marks on whales and
dolphins?" And yeah, a lot of the answers seem reasonable, provided
you agree that it's OK for some wild animals to live in captivity in the first


But opponents of SeaWorld are much more organized than any
random non-group of people that might be inclined to think positively toward the
company. So, of course, the hashtag was filled with more pointed tweets, and
that campaign is still going strong today:       

These are making the #McDStories seem like an Olivia Pope

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