Okay, okay, we get it. It’s Shark Week. We’re reminded every time we turn on the TV, log into Facebook, or read the news online. Shark Week is EVERYWHERE. For whatever reason, Discovery’s weeklong program has become one of the biggest cult phenomenon of the 21st century. But why? Is it because the programming is that awesome? Or is it because people feel the need to be a part of pop culture?
Shark Week is nothing new; in fact it has been running for 25 years, which makes it the longest running cable program of all time. However, it was not until recently that Shark Week began drawing in thousands of cult followers. Part of the reason it has become so wildly popular is Discovery’s incredible social media integration.
The Discovery Channel, and Shark Week really know how to create a successful integrated social media campaign. You will notice that throughout all of the programming, Discovery refers to their twitter account. They post comments from fans, and encourage online engagement. If you are watching Shark Week you better be telling the world about it! This year’s campaign really hit the ground running on June 23 with the release of the Snuffy the Seal commercial on YouTube. This 17 second video was an instant hit, and went viral almost over night. The video now has more than 1.8 million views. The social media madness doesn’t stop there. The Discovery Channel continues to push the campaign by integrating hastags like #teamseal and #snuffytheseal into regular content. They are very good at cross promoting their campaigns with their own accounts. The @SharkWeek twitter will talk to the @Snuffytheseal twitter and the @DiscoveryUS twitter simultaneously. They have worked hard to completely own the Internet during one week out of the year.
Because of the overwhelming success of the campaign, brands are hopping on board (not off-board because that would be dangerous!) in hopes of tapping into the success of Shark Week. Tide posted this Vine saying “ we get out blood stains too”, Doritos released this photo on their Facebook page saying “ This week, the snacker becomes the snack”, and Ben and Jerry’s tweeted this picture of a bucket of Phish Food with the caption “shark bait”. Under any other circumstance, these brands would probably never be a part of the same campaign. But during Shark Week, anything goes.
Although Discovery has found a way to be a leader in the social media marketing world, that’s not the only reason that Shark Week takes over our lives for a week. There are so many factors into what makes Shark Week cool, its hard to pin point one. But either way, we’re all going to sit on our couch every night playing Shark Week drinking games and tweeting about it. Enjoy everyone!