This week, senior writer Lindsay Gibb (pictured) will be counting down the days to Discovery’s Shark Week launch on August 2. For the first installment we’ll look at Discovery’s chilling marketing campaign.
At the beginning of July, Discovery sent out a package to entertainment bloggers and television writers across the United States. The package itself was mysterious, containing a murky jar holding items such as an old boat key, a shark tooth (it’s a fake), a ripped and bloodied bathing suit and an obituary. Upon closer inspection the writers receiving the package found the obituary was their own and their funeral was set for a day very close to the day the package arrived.
‘It’s pretty intense,’ says Brooke Runnette, executive producer for Discovery Channel who is overseeing this year’s Shark Week. The campaign, created for Discovery by Campfire, confused and creeped out some bloggers at first who didn’t know what it was about. But as recipients went online to frenziedwaters.com, they found more pieces of the puzzle.
At Frenzied Waters, users (whether they got a jar in the mail or not) can use Facebook Connect to watch their own death-by-shark-attack followed by their lives flashing before their eyes (through photos from your Facebook page) and finally read their own obituaries, all accompanied by eerie music.
Some bloggers and critics of Shark Week take issue with this campaign – and some of Discovery’s Shark Week content – perpetuating the fear and negative stereotypes around sharks. But Runnette says that this year’s Shark Week focuses on the dangers of entering shark territory as well as conservation. ‘[Shark Week is] about human behaviors that might trigger a shark to take a nibble or even worse,’ she offers. ‘We keep returning to this ‘sharks and people together – what happens.’ On the one hand we have what are more attack-y stories, and on the other hand we have more science-based ones. But they all keep coming back to the same thing, which is how to respect the shark.’
On Wednesday Lindsay Gibb will look at the docudrama which kicks off Shark Week, Brook Lapping’s Blood in the Water.