LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Two television stations have pulled a commercial for an aquarium in Newport saying the ad looks too much like a real news report about shark sightings in the Ohio River.
The commercial shows a fictional television reporter being knocked into the river, supposedly by a shark. It was made to promote a new shark exhibit at the Newport Aquarium, across the river from Cincinnati.
Television stations WLKY in Louisville and WTVQ in Lexington both pulled the commercial during the past two weeks. Neither station received complaints from viewers, but general mangers at both said they worried the format was too close to that of a real breaking news report.
“My concern is conditioning. The next time I have a situation where I need to get the public’s attention and they become conditioned to thinking that’s just the shark commercial,” said Bill Stanley, general manager at WTVQ. “Do I think the public would have known the difference? Sure I do. I just don’t think that’s something we need to be messing with right now.”
Stanley said his station asked that the ads be modified to make it more clear that they were commercials. Lisa Popyk, senior marketing manager for the Newport Aquarium, said there are no plans to do that.
An earlier commercial for the exhibit depicted shark fins cutting through the water on the Ohio River, and a third commercial is planned, Popyk said. She said other stations have run the commercials without complaint.
Jim Carter, general manager of WLKY, said his station pulled the commercial after running it for a day.
“In my opinion, if we are going to use the words ‘special report’ in that kind of environment, then what’s to follow is important information the viewers need to know,” he said.
Popyk insisted that aquarium officials “didn’t mean for this to be controversial.”
“We really don’t want Aunt Bessie to wake up from her knitting and think sharks really have invaded the Ohio River,” she said.
On the Net: Newport Aquarium: http://www.newportaquarium.com
(Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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