Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, a cult classic of American cable television since 1987, began on Sunday with an airing of a documentary called “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives.”
Aside from the series unleashing mayhem, while showing people that sharks aren’t monsters, it demonstrates how these beautifully powerful creatures are necessary for a healthy ocean.
This year, Volkswagen continues its relationship with Discovery Channel, stepping up their game in regards to bringing fun and innovative ways to engage their audience, including introducing a new version of the VW Beetle Shark Cage to the ocean floor.
“While most of the entertainment world has adapted to our busy schedules through on-demand viewing, Shark Week is a rarity in that it still captures millions of viewers in a week-long shared experience,” said Kevin Mayer, vice president marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “Volkswagen is excited to add our unique touch to an event with such an impressive impact on pop culture.”
Recently, the relationship between VW and Discovery garnered recognition from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Shark Cage campaign was awarded a Silver Lion for Best Brand or Product Integration into a Feature Film, Existing TV Show and/or Series and a Bronze Lion for Best Media Campaign for a Car and Automotive Service.
Working alongside marine biologist Luke Tipple, and Discovery’s branded entertainment team, the observation cage was transformed into a 2013 Beetle Convertible, bringing fans in for a closer view of the adrenaline rush and carnage.
People are fascinated with things that scare them. For better or worse, sharks are in that category. They’re one of the last great predators that we regularly encounter and are also surrounded by so much mystery.
“We saw this partnership as a great way to continue to build visibility for the Volkswagen brand and generate buzz for the 2013 Beetle Convertible by showcasing it in a brand new light. Online fans are able to go along for the ride on this year’s Road Trip with Volkswagen and Discovery providing 360-degree views of Luke Tipple’s underwater journey in the VW Beetle Convertible Shark Cage. Viewers will be able to share photos, videos, and Shark Week news directly from their mobile devices to online social media outlets including Discovery and Volkswagen Facebook and Twitter pages. Volkswagen will once again create buzz on Twitter using the custom Shark Week hashtag #VWSharkWeek,” says Justin Osborne, general manager and advertising and marketing communications at Volkswagen of America, Inc.
While the VW Shark Cage is fairly open, it functions very well as a shark cage.
“Contrary to popular media belief, sharks are actually quite cautious and generally will not swim into an enclosure for fear of being trapped. When we see sharks breaching shark cages, it is always due to human error, pulling them close to the cage with bait. In that scenario, they can hardly be blamed for the cage breach as sharks don’t have a reverse gear! That being said, the VW Shark Cage not only looks strange but emits a significant amount of noise and a large magnetic field. Add four knots of speed and bubbles blowing out of the top and you have a very effective shark cage. They don’t quite know what to make of it and are quite hesitant to come close enough where I’d be at risk,” says Luke Tipple, shark diving expert, marine biologist and award winning executive producer of What We Do Media.
Viewers will have the opportunity to witness a more technical vehicle that has the capabilities to travel to more locations, such as the Caribbean, in search of different shark species.
“This year we wanted to do everything I didn’t get to do last year and making the VW Shark Cage fly was at the top of that list. This was actually extremely challenging and we went through a lot of testing before we dialed in the vehicle’s dynamics and operations,” explains Tipple.
“Generic shark cages don’t move, ours does. VW gave us the design inspiration and my team of marine engineers and designers created a functional cage made of tubular aluminum that replicates the iconic shape of the Beetle. Unlike last year’s trip, the Beetle Convertible needed to be prepared for the challenges of the Subaquatic Road Trip, which will allow viewers to watch me take the Beetle Convertible Shark Cage along the ocean floor. Unlike a regular shark cage, the vehicle needed to have some extra features to be able to journey through deeper water and a variety of underwater terrain featured in this year’s trip. The one-of-a-kind observation vehicle was modified to look like the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible with added features like a third thruster for more power and dive planes so the vehicle could fly to visit places on the ocean floor when you can’t drive,” Tipple adds.
The week-long series airs in more than 72 countries and is cable television’s longest running programming event. Part of the reason people love Shark Week so much is the talk that surrounds it. The obsession with sharks has become socially acceptable and Shark Week’s loyal audience wait all year long to cozy up on the couch and tune in to see footage of their No. 1 fear swimming, diving, and ripping chunks of flesh off unsuspecting seals with their razor sharp teeth.
To say that the show has a huge following is an understatement. “Live every week like it’s Shark Week,” says Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock.