Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The whale shark PR

"Representatives of Atlantis resort...did not return calls to the AP on Thursday. They also did not respond to AP's request to speak to one of the marine specialists the hotel says monitors the whale shark around the clock."

That was in the International Herald Tribune.

Atlantis' handling of this story should be written up and used in marketing communication courses as a perfect example of what a company should not do.

A large juvenile female whale shark is being held in the resort's aquarium. According to the original announcement that she was there for paying customers to see, the resort said that the animal was recued by fishermen and they were giving it medical care.

I don't think anyone will be surprised at the revelations by ex-employees of Atlantis reported in Gulf News today - another bad PR hit for the hotel:

Sammy was not rescued by the Atlantis hotel, Gulf News has learnt, after speaking to ex-Atlantis employees who say that plans to have a whale shark in the hotel's Ambassador aquarium were clear from the beginning.

According to several previous employees who spoke to Gulf News on condition of anonymity, there was never been any plan to release Sammy and the hunt to find a resident whale shark was relentless, with fishing boats heading out every night to find one.

And they continue their PR strategy:

No comment was available from Atlantis or Nakheel after repeated attempts by Gulf News on Tuesday.

Like so many cliches, the saying that any publicity is good publicity simply isn't true.

There's been a raft of bad publicty, here and internationally, about the resort, not only about the whale shark. Instead of handling it professionally their strategy, if they have one, has been to ignore it.

The bunker mentality PR plan.

IHT story is here.

Gulf News' latest story is here.


Mars said...

they named a female 'sammy'?

dave said...

This whole situation absolutely reeks of lies, deception and arrogance on behalf of Atlantis.

They need to take a long hard look at themselves as they seem to think that this will all blow over if they remain quiet.

The way the worldwide press is picking this story up is amazing and they will be relentless until a favorable outcome is provided.

Zafar said...

I am amazed to read the word "Ex-Employees".

The hotel has just opened its doors to the customers and we have former employees commenting about the policies of the hotel.

There is no doubt that hotel is not handling the situation correctly but how do they get hold of former employees so quickly.

Moreover why everybody is only worried about one shark, there are 6 or 7 other sharks (sand sharks), there will be a total of 30 this is the first batch only, I believe they have specifically been bought and brought for the similar purpose, why nothing is being said about them. Is it because they are more in number and can give company to each other or because they have been bought from International suppliers.

Probably it is those international suppliers of 6 sand sharks who are picking up this story because they could not make money out of this ONE.

Seabee said...

Zafar, because this is not a shark like the others. Whale sharks are harmless animals which can grow over 12 metres long and can weigh over 13 tonnes.

Zafar said...

That means if a proper and able sized pond with appropriate company and environment is provided, this shark can be kept. said...

The only thing that shocked me about the Gulf News story was that the hotel already has ex-employees. That whole story about them searching the sea for a whale shark is not that surprising.

ZeTallGerman said...

zafar, this is not an ordinary shark: it is a plankton feeder. It filters tiny organisms from the water to feed, it doesn't eat fish like other predatory sharks do. To keep a plankton feeder in captivity is impossible. A marine centre in American tried this a few years ago, and one morning, both of their whale sharks were floating "belly up" in their tank. Dead. Also, whale sharks are protected by the CITES agreement and you aren't allowed to keep one in captivity without permission. I've been in touch with a Regional Director of WSPA (world society for the protection of animals) this week, and even they are furious at the fact that Atlantis is simply ingnoring them, and won't even let them enter the premises. Disgusting.

Zafar said...

Dear ZeTallGerman; thanks for the detailed information though my appreciation is coming quite late.