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professional Pantheon observer
Advisory Panel
Silver Donor
Jun 16, 2013
Even if Sea World were to win libel case against the groups behind Blackfisg it would likely do little good. Rinring Brothers won a judgement in federal court against Peta and the Humane society of the United States that included a fundung that they subborned perjury in a case involving the treatment of the elephants an you see what good it did them.


Pusheen Gardens
Silver Donor
Jul 20, 2011
Williamsburg, VA
Emails show SeaWorld execs worried about 'SeaWorld stink.' So maybe it's time for 'Busch Gardens Orlando'

‘The Orlando Sentinel’ said:
It was December of 2013, and SeaWorld was desperately trying to convince the world that the documentary “Blackfish” wasn’t really that big of a deal.

Sure, the movie with its bloody footage about captive whales was making worldwide headlines.

And yes, a string of musicians — from Willie Nelson to the Barenaked Ladies — had canceled gigs they’d booked at the theme park, saying they no longer felt comfortable performing there.

But SeaWorld swore everything was OK, that “most people” didn’t believe the movie and that everything was still sunny in the world of captive whales.

That was the public story, anyway.

Within the walls of the park, however, SeaWorld execs were freaking out.

“God we look like idiots,” lamented SeaWorld’s then-spokesman, Fred Jacobs, in a private email to co-workers — one recently revealed in a court case involving investors who claim the park knew its brand was damaged.

“This whole [bleep]ing thing [bleep]s me off,” Jacobs wrote. “What relentless amateurism we’ve shown in booking these [bleep]ing people and managing the whole [bleep]ing chocolate mess.”

But he wasn’t done. He said “All of this could have been easily avoided” if they had just reached out to artists like Nelson and said something like:

“Willie, on our best day SeaWorld is controversial, but right now we’re being attacked from all sides. We are positively radioactive. If you don’t want SeaWorld stink on you, we have to know now and we’ll walk away.”

Yes,the spokesman for SeaWorld — the guy who just days before had said everything was swell — coined the phrase “SeaWorld stink.”

I’m just not sure how you market yourself out of that one ... which is why, besides changing its core attractions away from large animals and more toward rides, SeaWorld may need to think bigger.

It may be time for SeaWorld to drop SeaWorld.

See, you can laugh or wince at the internal emails from a flustered public relations team. But the reality is that SeaWorld has a near-impossible task — trying to run a whale park without whales.

I’m just not sure that’s doable.

It may be time for an entire rebranding. Maybe SeaWorld Orlando needs to become Busch Gardens Orlando. Or some other park.

But the “SeaWorld” brand is tied as closely to Shamu as Disney is to Mickey Mouse. Only Mickey never killed anyone.

The park is making impressive strides to redirect its mission, vowing to end whale attractions years from now and focus more on the rides and conservation efforts it does so well.

It has three of the coolest coasters in Orlando and more rides on the way, including Infinity Falls, which CEO Joel Manby describes as “the longest, tallest of any water ride like this in the country.”

But no matter what SeaWorld does, it’s still SeaWorld — a park that continues to face declining revenues and attendance.

SeaWorld fans can say they don’t care about the concerns of large animals in captivity. But the numbers show many other people do.

And no matter how many innovative things Manby and his team do — and they’re truly doing some — they’re also still generating headlines like this one last year from Forbes: “How SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby is Trying to Save the Park from Itself.”

When industry observers view your entire brand name as a liability ... well, that’s the “SeaWorld stink.”

Perhaps the most pathetic scene revealed in those internal emails showed another SeaWorld exec urging his peers to try to rig an online poll on orlandosentinel.com that asked readers if “Blackfish” made them “less inclined to visit SeaWorld.”

Around 1 p.m. Dec. 24, Marketing Director Nick Gollattscheck urged his peers to exploit a hack he’d heard about in the polling system. (Something worth remembering when considering the results of online “polls.”)

“The Sentinel poll is still running. Let’s keep flooding it,” he said. “ Have also heard if you click ‘no,’ then click on ‘vote’ multiple votes. Like a hundred or so.

“Happy holidays and keep voting. Ho ho vote.”

So there it was — Christmas Eve — and SeaWorld’s top executives were busy trying to click away the SeaWorld stink.

I’m just not sure there are enough clicks in the world.

I want SeaWorld to survive. I think the park has taken steps to do so. But given everything SeaWorld obviously already knows about its brand, it’s going to have to do something big to leave the stink behind.

Source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-seaworld-blackfish-busch-gardens-scott-maxwell-20171114-story.html


Advisory Panel
Mar 16, 2016
Nicole said:
More bad news for SeaWorld.

Yikes. That's all that comes to mind. Yikes. I've been pretty optimistic that SEAS can find a way to pull themselves out of this, but I think this might just be the death blow.
Sep 29, 2009
That article only cites PETA for any claims against SeaWorld. That doesn’t help me feel any better.

One of the smartest things that PETA has done with their campaign against SeaWorld is spreading their message outside of the US, especially in places like the UK and in Germany. PETA is primarily reaching out to the countries that have the most concern for animals in a similar fashion as PETA. I think PETA knows that many people in the US don’t trust PETA, and therefore won’t listen to a word they say. When PETA lightened up their campaign in the US, they changed their strategy to use other countries to scare our politicians and us into taking actions in favor of groups such as PETA.
Mar 11, 2016
Two things on this, 10,000 day trips if that translates to 10,000 ticketed day trips would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $479.900/year or $47.99 per ticket with the 40ish percent group discount. They may get a bulk deal which would be slightly better provided they are buying 100+ tickets at one time, but that gives you an approximate decrease in gate revenues.

Second as @CastleOSullivan pointed out, PETA while their influence in the US is slowing they are picking up great influential officials in other countries especially in Asia and beyond.
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Advisory Panel
Mar 16, 2016
I have some opinions of PETA, but I'll hold them back a bit. Basically I wish SEAS would start to grow a pair about how they are being attacked. Blackfish was a very one sided slander film (IMO) because we know things were cut up and left on the cutting room floor (pretty widely reported they left stuff out that contradicted the film). Even if SEAS agreed to participate they likely would have edited their bit to make it sound bad.

There's also plenty of articles out there that hit at the filmmakers and financiers that developed the film for it's slanted view, romanticizing the truth about orac's in the wild, and sensationalized the bad of captivity.

IMO SEAS needs to grow a pair over it, should have gone after someone for slander/liable, and put forth (and still can) something that shows their efforts on the other side and that they do plenty of good for the wild as well.

Yes I'm not a fan that they bred these animals to keep like this, but at the same time if one was born in captivity, releasing them into the wild could be just as harmful because the lack of socialization and survival skills.
Mar 30, 2011
That being said, can you imagine how bad the optics would be for SeaWorld to fight back too hard on this? I think they would run the risk of turning even more of the public against them. Doesn't seem to me like there's an easy way out of this for SeaWorld, unfortunately.
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Advisory Panel
Mar 16, 2016
jonfin826 said:
That being said, can you imagine how bad the optics would be for SeaWorld to fight back too hard on this? I think they would run the risk of turning even more of the public against them. Doesn't seem to me like there's an easy way out of this for SeaWorld, unfortunately.

They would have to tread with caution to do it.

But I've said a few times: Start with your own produced film on conservation efforts lead by SEAS team members. Admit that there was wrongdoing and issues in the Blackfish film; but back it up with the misrepresentation that happened in a wide range.

So to start, I would have put forward the notion that "hey we do plenty of good, while owning that there was mistakes."

After that is done I would be continuing to push the conservation front and efforts by being more open about what animals are coming into their care, how they are helping them, and how they release them to the wild. I would move away from "tricks" shows for the animals where they are trained, and more to "educational" shows within the parks where they are showing the natural abilities of the animals.

So in 'phase 2' you are getting more to 'here's why to respect these animals' and 'here's how we ensure their species can survive'.

And finally once your in better footing for all of this where the GP can see the efforts have positive outcomes, that you've embraced you've done wrong in the past, and you've moved on from the practices that allowed that to happen; I think you can go at continued efforts to use Blackfish as a tool against the park for defamation of character. I personally wouldn't go at revenue loss, because as Zimmy has covered a few times, there are other issues that lead to that.

That would be 'phase 3'. And on top of it, here's what I would do: Based on how much you get (if you win a monetary amount), donate most of it to conservation efforts not operated by SEAS. That last bit is important IMO if you get this far. If you kept the money, GP will say he everything was about getting money because you're in trouble. Donate most of it, and people realize that you are past all of that and that this wasn't about the money, rather the damage done by a biased film.

Now personally the reason why I go in this order, is you never know what step is going to be the thing to turn the tide so to speak. Maybe just positive films, and changing the animal shows in the park to get away from trained behaviors can really change the perception. Hence why I really like BGT. Lots of just letting the animals roam. It's why I like the bird sanctuary, the wolf run, and the eagle enclosure at BGW. Those animals are just living life, and other than the wolves knowing where to go for food (IMO that's not really training), they are still very much just 'hanging out'. (Off on a tangent here but what they are doing for the eagles is amazing, because with those injuries they would have had a cruel ending to their lives). I think those things, animals that would have had a very sad ending in the wild, are what they really need to be highlighting.

Is there a chance this all could backfire some? Yes, there always is when you are trying to rehabilitate your image. But they are doing a terrible job as is anyways IMO with their "don't look there, look over here!" approach. I think a slight change to it to take on the issue head on would do them better.
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Life is short, so eat dessert first.
Jun 8, 2013
Chesapeake, VA
If someone was able to capture the image of the Seaworld name at the beginning of the game before the change happened then SEAS probably could sue them for slander and I would love for them to do it and go after them hard. You're probably right COS that they realized they screwed up and made the change quickly. The other thing is with that change they are now probably safe as they can claim it's a parody which is legally allowed. Regardless it's yet another example proving what a POS organization PETA is.


Advisory Panel
Mar 16, 2016
CastleOSullivan said:
They mentioned "SeaWorld" at the beginning of the game, but changed the name to "SeaLand" once they started their story. Perhaps PETA was worried about SeaWorld being able to sue for slander?

Not just slander but I would be 100% confident in saying that SeaWorld did not license out their name to this, so you got licensing issues as well.

In fact....I really hope someone got that.
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