SeaWorld Launches Multi-Million Dollar Reputation Campaign

But will it work?

SeaWorld is NOT happy with its current status as a case study in bad PR, and the brand will spend millions this year on a multimedia campaign to counter the “misinformation” stemming from the Blackfish movie.

The first wave of the campaign includes a PR push, a series of YouTube videos, and a Q&A session with trainers. The company also promoted interim CEO Joel Manby to the CEO/president role yesterday.

Here’s one of the new YouTube videos addressing the “unfair criticism”:

…and here’s another one:

This campaign will also include print placements and national TV ads, but this isn’t just about Blackfish: a former employee named John Hargrove just released a book called Beneath the Surface in which he claims that SeaWorld “refuses to change its business model” despite the fact that its animals “are not healthy and they are not thriving.”

The company’s comms VP Fred Jacobs replies:

“Despite the false claims from John Hargrove and other extreme animal rights activists like PETA, we provide the highest standards of care as noted by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and are highly regulated by the federal government…”

A more general statement from corporate affairs chief Jill Kermes to FOX and other media outlets:

“I think there’s been a lot of misinformation out in the public about who we are and what we do. It has been a one-sided conversation and this is an opportunity for us to give people the information they need so they can make up their own minds.”

Here’s the key line, though:

SeaWorld says it has spent $10 million on all its efforts at rehabilitating its reputation.

Ouch. PETA is, of course, fighting back — and the org has some celebrities on its side:

SeaWorld sought to boost engagement numbers today with the Q&A effort:

The org addresses Blackfish directly in a video on the Q&A page — and, as O’Dwyer’s, The New York Times and other outlets noted, it hired crisis firm 42 West to help deal with the fallout in 2013.

No word on whether the firm still counts SeaWorld as a client.

UPDATE: We hear that Orlando-based digital agency PUSH is behind the campaign and that global ad agency FCB will create the coming television work.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.