The Ask SeaWorld Twitter Campaign failed dramatically this week after the controversial aquarium decided to open itself to the sharp and sometimes critical world of Twitter.
SeaWorld has long been controversial with its growing opposition citing cruelty, illegal kidnapping of animals from the wild, health and safety violations and many other unsavoury rumours. The chilling 2013 documentary “Blackfish” which featured interviews with previous employees was also heavily damning.
So when the marketing department at SeaWorld thought it would be a good idea to use the hashtag #AskSeaWorld you would think that someone would have foreseen impending disaster ahead…..
The idea behind the hashtag is that members of the public would ask questions about the whales, dolphins and other marine animals which the company would answer, therefore promoting the brand and its transparency.
What actually happened of course is that angry Twitter users hijacked the hashtag using it to make pointed statements aimed at SeaWorld. So SeaWorld simply gave their opposition a world stage on which they could be heard.
“Why are your parking lots bigger than your Orca tanks?” asked several Twitter users whilst others asked “Why do you rip baby whales away from their mothers?”
On Friday, SeaWorld addressed what it said were trolls hijacking its hashtag stating “No time for bots and bullies. We want to answer your questions,” it posted on Twitter.
So children, what have we learnt from the unfortunate Ask SeaWorld Twitter Campaign ? Well in a nutshell, be very sure before you open your brand to the public on Twitter! If your brand is squeaky clean then it can be a really great move to increase interaction. Similarly if you are a charity trying to raise awareness then it can be a very positive move. However, history tells us that brands who are deemed to be unethical such as McDonalds and even the NYPD shouldn’t do it!
What do you think about The Ask SeaWorld Twitter Campaign? Tweet me @charli_says and let me know.