ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – With SeaWorld phasing out its killer whale program, it is forced to ponder the question: What is SeaWorld without Shamu?
The company built its brand on the leaping and splashing killer whale. She was part of its logo, gave her name to stadiums in the theme parks and was the inspiration for rides. The orca image sold T-shirts and soft, stuffed animals for the kids to take home.
Marketing and branding expert Allen Adamson says the orcas were SeaWorld’s most powerful engagement tool, so the company must reinvent its core signature attraction.
Under pressure from animal rights groups and suffering from a drop in ticket sales, SeaWorld announced this week it was ending its orca breeding program and stopping its traditional killer whale shows.
SeaWorld’s decision followed a backlash from the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which told the story of Tilikum, an orca responsible for three deaths.
Kay reported from Miami.
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