Other branding experts say SeaWorld's handling of the situation has gone against just about every tried-and-tested rule of handling a crisis. Karen Post, author of "Brand Turnaround," a book examining how brands with tarnished reputations can improve their image, says that SeaWorld has done a poor job of "staying ahead of the story."
"Once you know there's a situation, you can't just wait and respond defensively, you need to do proactive things to remedy the issue," she says. "They don't have to admit they're guilty, but they have to let the public know that, yes, we're the company behind the brand and we're doing things to respond to the situation."
Along the way, though, SeaWorld has yet to be able to point to any inaccuracies in the film. As "Blackfish" director Gabriela Cowperthwaite maintained to the Wall Street Journal: "It's an air-tight document and anybody can look up the information in the film at any time and find out on their own."
And there have been other, smaller stumbles, like the apparent rigging of a web poll for the Orlando Business Journal. And the unfortunate promotion of a SeaWorld Trainer Barbie as holiday stocking-stuffer fare. That was a particularly tin-eared move, considering the tragic 2010 death of blonde, pony-tailed trainer Dawn Brancheau is the central event of "Blackfish."