Marketing Lessons From Shark Week

Shark Week!! In the words of  Stephen Colbert “It is so easy to forget that the week after Christmas is one of the two holiest of holidays, the other being, of course, Shark Week.”

What can we as marketers learn from the people behind this social phenomenon?? Well, a lot actually. So here goes!

Collaborate for Ideas

Did you know the idea for Shark Week came from a “pre meeting” meeting at a bar. According to Executive producer Brooke Runnette, a group of Discovery executives were at a bar with some colleagues when “one of them said something like, ‘You know what would be awesome? Shark Week!’ And somebody in that nexus scribbled it down on a napkin.’

Release Your Content At Strategic Times

history of shark week

July 17, 1988. What’s is strategic about that? Follow along

About 10 years prior to Shark Week there was a little movie called Jaws.

Where was the location? At the beach. After that movie it was impossible to go to the beach and not think about Jaws.

What is generally the hottest month of the year? July.

Where do vacationers go to cool off? The beach.

Yes the producers knew that, and Shark Week was scheduled for July 17, 1988. When they knew sharks would be top of mind. Imagine Shark Week in the middle of February, would have been a big mistake.


Listen to your Audience Use Analyitics

History of shark week

Viewership for Discovery Channel doubled during Shark Week . Its success meant there had to be a sequel. Discovery used the ratings to find out what types of content it should produce. According to Runnette says. “It kind of taught us what it wanted to be, in a way.


Cross Promotion (Link to Your Own Content

It didn’t take long for Discovery to do some cross-promotion. Knowing it had a huge draw on it’s hands it used stars from it’s other popular shows to host Shark Week and increased the exposure of all of it’s shows.

Cross Promotional Hosts

  • Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman MythBusters
  • Mike Rowe Dirty Jobs
  • Les Stroud Survivorman
  • American Chopper Cast

Not to mention Shark Week themed special editions of MythBusters and Dirty Jobs in 2005 and 2006, respectively.


These are 4 things you may already be doing, but for some reason it’s so cool to recognize it in other people’s strategy. Especially when it’s not so obvious.

Action Steps

  • Collaborate
  • Find optimal times to release your content
  • Use Analytics to see what your audience wants
  • Cross Promote Your other content!
  • Share this post!!

Remember, Some People Talk About Daredevils Do It!