From cable to OTT & social media: Shark Week turns 33 roping in big names…

Shark Week 2021

For three decades, Shark Week has grown into a phenomenon that helps facilitate awareness around these fascinating sea creatures. Here’s all you need to know about how Shark Week became a phenomenon in itself, furthering Discovery Channel’s brand value.

Back in 1988, Shark Week began as a Discovery Channel phenomenon that would educate, entertain and inspire people to know about sharks. It included an intriguing line-up of shows that would help bridge the gaps between people and these mysterious sea creatures. The efforts would help draw attention to shark conservation and raise adequate funds for such initiatives. Over the years, the programming has grown manifold, attracting a multitude of advertisers. Now, even OTT streaming and social media are an integral part of Shark Week.

The first show aired as part of Shark Week was called Caged in Fear. It was about the science of motorised shark cages. Given the fascination people have for sharks and the way the concept was packaged, people were hooked. It helped Discovery Channel expand its viewership. As the century progressed to the 90s and the Week grew, the channel started investing more in personnel, better cameras, and resources. They were able to broadcast unique, never-seen-before footage. Shows like Live From a Shark Cage helped them reel in more people using live footage.

In 2017, Michael Phelps was roped in for racing against a computer-generated shark. Though inherently intriguing, the show garnered criticism on social media as quite a few people felt cheated. After all, sharks swim way faster and even the best human swimmer can be no match against them. Shark Week has also faced criticism from the scientific community for the fictional depictions in the line-up for they take away from the educational aspects and render the efforts merely entertaining. However, among regular people, it has surely made waves.

Celebrities such as Tiffany Haddish, Brad Paisley, JB Smoove, William Shatner, Eli Roth, the cast of Jackass, Noah Schnapp, Robert Irwin, Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Dr. Sandra Lee, Josh Gates, Snoop Dogg, Mark Rober, Chris Rose, David Dobrik and Kinga Philipps are a part of the Shark Week 2021 in varying capacities. They help augment the efforts and help the team reach more people with their awareness initiatives.

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Sharp Brand Game

Southwest Airlines has been a partner of Shark Week since 2013. This year, they are providing their customers with inflight content about sharks. Their library has been updated with some episodes that would be available for passengers a few days ahead of the premiere. Salon brand Great Clips has been associated with the programming for almost a decade. They feature the Week’s content in-salon via co-branded signage as well as run co-branded TV spots on Discovery Channel.

Ubisoft, a creator, publisher, and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, is powering the efforts with an in-game integration within Hungry Shark Evolution. Wilson Sporting Goods Co. is releasing a limited-edition collaboration volleyball. Fashion tech accessory retailed Casely would be chipping in with a limited-edition shark-themed iPhone case. Georgetown Cupcake will be selling special shark-themed cupcakes.

Clothing, accessories, and home decor brand Nautica would be running an interactive poll for their Instagram audiences to vote for their favourite sharks. The winning shark will feature on the brand’s next Sustainably Crafted tee & hat for their Spring ’22 collection. MeUndies too is supporting the Week via trivia, games, memes, and more on Instagram and Twitter. They are also launching limited-edition Shark Bite print underwear and loungewear.

Pooch Perks is launching several shark-themed products that can be enjoyed by dogs of all breeds and sizes. This year, American Red Cross will be partnering with Shark Week for the first time, using the platform to nudge people to donate blood. Biossance will use its social media presence to highlight the importance of shark conversation, in addition to celebrating sustainable products.



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Jagruti is a mass media student in search for all things perfect. A lover of stories, book worlds and signs, she can find magic in almost everything she sees, reads and writes. Follow her on Twitter @JagrutiVerma


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