Shark-eting: Marketing Lessons Learned from Shark Week


Shark Week, the Discovery Channel’s week-long celebration of the ocean’s most fearsome, toothsome creatures, has been racking up record views since 1987. Each year, millions of viewers tune in to check out these silent killers from the safety of their television set or mobile device, with the show has become such a phenomenon that it’s inspired countless ads and plenty of Twitter #trendingtopics.

In celebration of the 2020 season, let’s take a look at what Shark Week and its predatory stars have taught us about marketing.

Is That a Fin in the Water?

Da-dum. Da-dum. Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum… the iconic theme from Jaws is a masterclass in anticipation – which is something that the creators of Shark Week have taken to heart. Sure, you could launch your product or campaign out of nowhere and hope for a big splash. But why do that when you can tease your audience with hints and sneak peeks of what’s to come? The more you build suspense, the better the pay-off. Craft your marketing campaign with a clear sense of its roll-out, including what you’ll be doing in the weeks or months prior to launch.

There’s A Bit of Shark in All of Us

Shark Week looms large on the public consciousness. Over the years, it’s inspired dozens of campaigns, tie-ins, and witty social media posts from brands across every vertical imaginable. From Clorox’s “Great Wipe Shark” campaign to Tide’s promise that blood stains are no match for its Pods, there’s a whole ocean of witty pieces and campaigns out there that tie into this hotly anticipated week. The lesson? Keep your brand relevant by connecting your content with current topics, trends, or audience interests.

Swim With the Right School

Generating millions in retail revenue and tie-ins every year, Shark Week is an apex predator when it comes to powerful partnerships and collaborations. In recent years, the Discovery Channel has also expanded its partnerships to the realm of the digital, working with videographers, conservationists, researchers to craft viral shark-themed digital content – and even stickers and gifs via GIPHY. The key takeaway here for marketers is that strategic partnerships can help put your brand in front of a much larger audience.

Don’t Be Afraid to Rock the Boat

With its heart-pounding tagline (So Good You’ll Scream) and eye-popping, shark-filled video, Shark Week isn’t afraid to dial up the drama – and audiences love it. If your brand tends to play it safe, think about ways that you can add an extra dose of drama to your marketing efforts. Smart headlines, splashy videos, and eye-catching ads are all great ways to keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

Airing Aug 9-16 on the Discovery Channel, Shark Week is stealthily sneaking up on us – and we’re sure it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. In its 32nd year, we look forward to keeping an eye out for the insights and inspiration its creators – and marketers – have in store for us!

See Also:

Sink or Swim: How to Survive in a Competitive Marketplace

Keep Swimming: 5 Ways to Keep Moving Your Brand Forward

How Your Brand Can Thrive In A Post-Pandemic Apocalyptic World

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