SeaWorld has been very insistent in its messaging since CNN’s Blackfish expose surfaced with variations on “The documentary is skewed and it will not affect our business in any way.”
Despite this claim, the company and its firm 42West launched an aggressive campaign to counter the film’s influence and we posted extensively.
Time has revealed some small cracks in the facade: Southwest Airlines, for example, recently ended its 26-year partnership with the resort while maintaining ties through the Southwest Vacations unit.
Today, however, the company officially changed its tune in a telling press release.
Revenue dipped last quarter and the company had to warn investors to lower their expectations; as a result, SeaWorld stock dropped considerably. Here’s the key sentence from the release itself:
“In addition, the Company believes attendance in the quarter was impacted by demand pressures related to recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California.”
Kevin Roose of New York magazine notes that said media attention can be tied to the pending Orca Whale Safety Act, a law that would ban the killer whale shows that made SeaWorld famous. Earlier this year, USA Today tied the law, proposed by California assemblyman Richard Bloom, directly to “details revealed in the movie Blackfish.”
Even if the act (which has been “tabled” in the interest of waiting for further research) fails to pass, this release effectively serves as an admission that, despite claims to the contrary, the movie has indeed had an adverse effect on the business.
We expect to see SeaWorld’s messaging efforts evolve in turn.