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What would you do? Shamu, part two

By Robert Niles
Published: April 21, 2010 at 1:17 PM
SeaWorld might be considering resuming its Twitter feed from iconic whale Shamu. This week, SeaWorld Orlando posted to its Facebook page a link to this article from the Miami Herald, which asked the question.

SeaWorld stopped posting to its Shamu feed after the death of a trainer in Shamu Stadium in Orlando in February. I wrote last month about the dilemma facing SeaWorld in marketing its Shamu character.

For SeaWorld's benefit, let's revisit that discussion now that the park seems ready to consider it.

Comments below, please.

Readers' Opinions

From 98.223.188.30 on April 21, 2010 at 1:23 PM
Another option would be re-naming it. You can do that without loosing any followers! I know a friend who changed it and they just showed up in the feed under the new name! Just a thought.
From Robert Niles on April 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM
Where's the brand or marketing value in that? SeaWorld has an institutional Twitter account @SeaWorld_Parks. What distinguished @Shamu was the character's voice, and the emotional bond that the character built between the brand and the audience with that voice.

Change the name, and you have to change the character. What else would SeaWorld use then?

From Domenik Jost on April 21, 2010 at 5:00 PM
Clyde and Seamore would be kinda funny. But It is definitely not what SeaWorld is known for. I don't think they really have a character that is anywhere close to as well known as Shamu. It will be a tough decision.
From Bruce Lane on April 21, 2010 at 10:33 PM
I don't think they should. The feed is part of an irresponsible illusion the park has insisted on propagating for more years than I care to think about.

As I see it, right now, they stand at a turning point. Personally, I would like to see them adopt a much more realistic and honest position, as in "Yes, working with these animals the way we do is dangerous, and the 'Shamu' brand is purely a marketing gimmick with no relation whatsoever to what the animals are truly like."

I think it more likely, however, that they will simply do whatever they can to gloss things over, run damage control, and fight like blazes to keep the image of the brand alive, no matter that it's as phony and misleading as a nine-dollar bill.

If they do go the latter direction, I believe it will be only a matter of time before the next incident.

Happy travels.

From 64.12.116.79 on April 22, 2010 at 4:16 AM
I'dsay use Shamu as as a character only. ANd go head and resume the twitter thing. Use the name as branding item much as Disney did the mouse.
From Jacob Sundstrom on April 22, 2010 at 10:40 PM
So portraying an Orca as a sarcastic, funny and docile smart-ass is somehow giving people the idea that whales aren't dangerous? Sorry, I don't buy it. Crank it back up, Shamu! I miss you!
From 24.196.47.116 on April 23, 2010 at 10:25 AM
I think SeaWorld should bring back the Shamu Twitter account. What happened to Dawn Brancheau was a terrible accident, and of course our hearts go out to her family and friends. I think SeaWorld has done a commendable job in being very sensitive of the tragedy, and responding to it in the best way possible. Dawn spent many, many years of her life devoted to orcas and committed to providing the public with not only a beautiful show, but sharing with us her passion for these animals, and her knowledge of them. I think that Dawn would want SeaWorld to continue that work. Part of SeaWorld's outreach to the public is the Shamu Twitter feed. When most people think of SeaWorld, they automatically think of Shamu. Shamu is one of the biggest attractions of SeaWorld.

This accident should not give Shamu or orcas a bad name. We may never know why Tilly acted that way or why he did what he did. We might never know what exactly caused or contributed to the accident, but that doesn't make Tilly a bad animal, and it doesn't make any other orca a bad animal. I think that SeaWorld should continue to utilize the Shamu Twitter feed to reach out to people and continue to educate them about orcas. There's so much that we know, and yet so much that we don't know. Some people may be very misinformed about orcas which only leads them to make conclusions that are not true, and this perpetuates fear and loathing of these animals based on what we think we know, and not based on real fact.

I think the Shamu Twitter account should be reactivated. I have a feeling that's what Dawn would want.

From 165.124.219.47 on April 23, 2010 at 10:25 AM
The Shamu feed is one of the distinctive brand aspects of the Twitter feed, and it's presence was something I've always enjoyed on my Twitter feed; it's in no way insensitive, because it is the face of the Brand. Change it and you change the brand. I love Shamu.

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