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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Marketing the Whale

We went to San Diego and back the last three days. A day to drive there, a day spent at Sea World and a day to drive back.

We got to watch Sunset at Del Mar beach in San Diego on day 1, Sunset behind the San Diego skyline from the Sky ride at Sea World on Day 2 and were back home before Sunset on Day 3.

While the driving was hectic, I was happy that my arm could handle long drives without any pain and my stomach recovered in time to survive the driving.

San and the kids had a blast at Sea World (we were joined by the cousin family and my BIL and BILLie). As usual, there was all the "ooh" ing and "aaw" ing when Shamu the killer whale(s) did their thing. We did not know that all the 7 whales are generally referred to as "Shamu".

We had to answer questions like :

"which one is Shamu?"

"where is Ramu?" etc. which always makes these trips interesting.

During the show, they always seem to pick some 8-9 year old kid to come and meet Shamu up close and personal and invariably this kid would state that he/she wants to be a whale trainer when growing up. That sends the kids on a "Can I be a whale trainer also?" series of questions.

In case you are from this planet, which most likely you are, "whale trainer" doesn't get that many hits on monster.com or naukri.com and there are not that many people who can say they have a "B.S. in Whale riding - Shamu college, San Diego".

As a parent, you don't generally tell your kid "No" to everything they want to be. You tell them "you can be anything you want to be" and make sure they become what you want them to be. My parents did that to me and most likely we will do that to our kids. Only exception being that my parents would not let me stray too much towards arts or sports and those were strictly "extra curricular" activities. We do not have a problem if our kids can make a profession out of arts or sports.

Still, Whale riding is most likely excluded from the list of "what we want our kids to become". After fending off some serious questions and trivial ones for a good half hour, we happened to pass by a bunch of Flamingos (which were being taken for a walk, I kid you not) and a dolphin feeding pool.

That is when Jr. went and asked a question to the support staff "What do they eat for breakfast?" and the reply was "fish".

Jr. came running to me and said "you know something? the dolphins, whales, all these big thingies, eat fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner and guess what? the fish stinks and the animals stink also when you go close to them!"

The dad in me smiled big and wide inside and with a sincere face asked "Do you still want to be a whale trainer?" and the answer was "No, but that whistle thing they wear on the neck is really cool, can you get it for me?"

The whole allure of the whale training thing hit me like a lightning bolt. It was not the freaking acrobatic killer whale that was attracting the kids. It was the cheap 2$ whistle that the trainers had around their neck which looked like a whale tail fin (and featured prominently on the big screen in every zoom shot) and was being sold just outside Shamu's stadium by every peddler!

The marketing genius. How did we miss that one? All we had to do was buy the whale whistle and there would have been no questions. (Which on a matter of principle we didn't).

Now, we really do not know if Shamu did all his tricks because of some fancy notes played by the trainers, but every dad and mom was doing their moves at the nearest ATM after that show and that meant the whistle was a success.

I am now convincing Jr. to grow up and be part of the sales and marketing team at Sea World. She can be close to Shamu, have fun controlling the parents and have one whale of a time and still make tons of money!

Let us see if my marketing skills are any good...

ps. A bunch of pictures from the trip below..

please note the whistle hanging from girl's neck on big screen...



I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 12:08 PM, Anonymous WA wrote...

Could we have a picture of the whistle as well please.

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 12:31 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan wrote...

WA, your aasai has been neraivethified.


I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:10 PM, Blogger Sanand wrote...

That was so funny! I really enjoyed this post on whale training! How kids ask us the most unpredictable questions and its really great to know how across generations we have now begun to be more open about letting them ask us questions.

Oh, I too wanted to see the whistle pic!


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