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Russia captive orca NARNIA_2017_2 CREDIT Oxana Fedorova

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SeaWorld criticised as social media campaign backfires

SeaWorld has come in for widespread criticism over its attempts to use social media as part of its new marketing strategy. Launched last week as part of a wider plan to help repair the damage done to its reputation by the documentary film Blackfish, and subsequent loss of visitors and revenue as people stayed away from its marine parks, the company came up with the Twitter hashtag #AskSeaWorld to generate questions that it could then answer on its website.

Not surprisingly, it has been widely used by opponents of captivity to criticise and ask SeaWorld more searching questions over its continued keeping of orcas in its parks, which unsurprisingly have gone unanswered. PR commentators have now slammed the company for being so naive in thinking the strategy might work. Previously, companies such as Mcdonalds have been on the receiving end after similar attempts to use social media in this way backfired. As Patrick Coffee, writing for Adweek, says “Can we all please lay the “social media hashtag Q&A for troubled clients” strategy to rest?!” while Alison Griswold from Slate asks in her article “Why Would Companies Ever Think a Campaign Like #AskSeaWorld Is a Good Idea?”

Further observations of the failing campaign have come from CNN Money, International Business Times and the Huffington Post amongst others. In the meantime, investors seem similarly unimpressed so far as the company’s share price slid once again last week.

What would you ask SeaWorld?

SeaWorld has invited the world to ask questions. If you use Twitter, please ask SeaWorld a legitimate question about keeping orcas in tanks for financial gain. We want them to face real, thoughtful enquiries. 

More about the fate of orcas in captivity

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.