Sea World vs. Blackfish. A battle of brands.

 The Battle of the brands. Can Sea World win?

Sea WorldBusiness at Sea World is off by about a million visitors per year. No one doubts that this dramatic drop in visitations to the theme parks has been due to the bad publicity generated by the documentary Black Fish.The documentary relied upon stories and testimony from former Sea World employees documenting the tragic deaths of a few Sea World employees by the parks Orcas (Killer Whales). But the damage to the theme park brand hinged on the poor treatment of the park’s sea mammals. It is alleged in the documentary that the whales are stressed beyond all reasonable boundaries, isolated, confined and drugged. All this in the name of entertainment.

Sea World vs BlackfishSea World has just struck back and has released a new Sea World advertising campaign designed to mitigate the damage done by PETA  and Black Fish by attacking their agenda and offering the positive testimony of staff veterinarians.

This is a battle Sea World can’t win. The reason is brand. You see brand is built upon beliefs (not truths) and without passing judgment on who is right here, it is just simple common sense that says the belief in ethical treatment for animals is a more strongly held belief than a belief that entertainment is ok. Human beings also hold as a brand precept that everything has a cause and effect and few are willing to believe that a confined giant animal lives a full and robust life when compared to their wild brothers and sisters. Just ask Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey who have announced that they are fazing out live elephants from their shows (despite their own denial of mistreatment) because of very similar accusations.  The problem that Sea World faces is more severe. The Circus is still a Circus without Animals (Check out the Big Apple Circus or Cirque Du Soleil)  but Sea World without Orcas and Dolphins is… well a wet desert.

Swim with the Dolphins

Sea world vs the CoveI have no doubt the next victim will be all of the Swim with the Dolphins parks. All you have to do is watch the amazing film The Cove  to feel that the cost of populating these parks is way too high. It is an unnatural stress placed once again on tranquilized and intelligent creatures who would prefer not to swim with us.

I think Shamu is history.

The Mixify campaign seems disingenuous

During Game 6 of the World Series last night, I saw for the first time the ad for a new initiative by Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper and the American Beverage Association called Mixify. Mixify is a initiative that, well, let them tell you:

“#Realtalk: Coke, Dr. Pepper and Pepsi understand that balancing your mix of foods, drinks and physical activities can get a little tricky. And since our products can play a part in that equation, we’ve teamed up to help make it easier to find a balanced mix that feels oh so right. That’s where Mixify comes in. It’s like a balance wingman. Bringing you new combinations to keep your mix fresh and your body right. Like mixing lazy days with something light, following sweaty workouts with whatever you’re craving, and crossing cats with dragons. Because at the end of the day, finding balance keeps you feeling snazzier than the emoji of the dancing lady in red.”

In truth, the soda brands want you to buy more of these.
In truth, the soda brands want you to buy more of these.

Thank goodness I am going to finally have a “balance wingman.” Seriously? I’ll have whatever the Mixify brain trust had when they thought up this thing. If we were flies on the wall in their marketing meetings, we would hear them saying, “How do we sell more Coke, Pepsi, or Dr. Pepper?” I don’t believe for a minute that any of these companies really want people to not drink their beverages as much and I am quite positive most of their stockholders don’t either.

Unlike the great tobacco settlement in 1998, where tobacco companies were required to contribute to anti-smoking ads, Mixify is a volunteer effort. The campaign does not tell people that they should stay away from soft drinks because they could make you fat or give you diabetes.

Instead, the soda brands want to convince viewers to only drink them after they have worked out or when they are “crossing cats with dragons.” The whole idea is so contrived and is entirely disingenuous. Even taken as it is, it is the worst kind of a very thinly veiled PR stunt.