To continue our controversial conversation about SeaWorld, Mashable recently published an article about SeaWorld’s latest failed attempt to save their brand. The release of the documentary Blackfish in 2013 has launched a series of problems for SeaWorld, including a tarnished image and sloping ticket sales. This year, they are implementing a new PR campaign in hopes to revitalize their brand and dispute accusations of animal cruelty.
SeaWorld’s latest component of their PR campaign was to launch a section on their site SeaWorld Cares where anyone could ask questions, and SeaWorld would tweet a response. Their effort to address their criticism elicited very harsh remarks from the general public.
— Kelli Lovett (@KellisKupcakes) March 26, 2015
Were you guys high or just drunk when you came up with this social media ad campaign? #AskSeaWorld
— Jay Normal (@JNormal) March 27, 2015
— E. Grodzik (@RunItsGrodzilla) March 27, 2015
SeaWorld’s response was equally harsh, and childish in my opinion. They called their haters “so 2014″…and used terrible meme placement. My question for them is: why did they not anticipate negative responses? Their defensive and bitter stance tells me that they were surprised and angered by response. This was crisis management at its worst. If the social media campaign had been well thought out, SeaWorld would have analyzed their audience ahead of time, so they could have anticipated the types of responses they would receive, and have diplomatic responses on hand.
Its clear that SeaWorld’s social media coordinator was offended by the responses by bots and trolls. But here’s a fun fact, Twitter is rife with them! It almost appears that their Twitter coordinator didn’t understand how Twitter works. In order to counteract them, SeaWorld spammed the audience with similar responses that were cursory. In the end, SeaWorld is coming across as defensive, unapproachable, and inauthentic. They responded in childish ways to negative criticism, when they should have anticipated their audience and had considerate responses on hand. In particular, their tweet that said “Jacking hashtags is so 2014” was rude and alienated their audience. SeaWorld’s ambition to save their brand sinks further and further.