SeaWorld and Southwest End 26-Year Partnership

In a joint statement, SeaWorld and Southwest Airlines announced the end of a promotional partnership started in 1988. The companies aren't answering questions beyond the scant (and dare I say, loose) explanation in the release

Joint Statement on Southwest and SeaWorld Partnership

Southwest and SeaWorld have mutually decided not to renew their partnership when the contract expires at the end of the year. Our promotional marketing relationship began in 1988 and was one of the first of its kind – focused on co-marketing opportunities between Southwest passengers and SeaWorld visitors.

The companies decided not to renew the contract based on shifting priorities. Southwest is spreading its wings with new international service, and increased focus on local market efforts. With an increasing international visitor base, SeaWorld is looking to focus on new and growing markets in Latin America and Asia, among others.

The companies will continue to work together through Southwest Vacations. Southwest's three specialty airplanes will return to the company's traditional livery.

Southwest and SeaWorld have enjoyed their long relationship, and wish each other continued success.

The more obvious reason, which The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and others point to, is backlash from "Blackfish." The movie questioned SeaWorld's treatment of killer whales at theme parks and blamed several trainers' deaths on how the animals are held in captivity. 

In the statement, the companies mention "shifting priorities." Although both have an increasingly international focus, Southwest is looking towards more local marketing. Huh?  

Discussion Starters: 

  • Another option for the companies is to announce the decision without giving a reason at all. What do you think of this strategy? 
  • The companies aren't giving statements beyond this joint message. Is that a wise decision? Why or why not?