Xbox dives into the murky waters of sharkvertising

To promote the global release of the new Xbox One console, the folk at Microsoft and Pead PR dropped one into the shark tank at Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. Until the official release date at midnight on 21 November, the highly coveted device will be protected by the ocean’s apex predator. And this publicity stunt continues a long tradition of using sharks in marketing. 

The idea has already received a great deal of press coverage in New Zealand and beyond, with Time, The Mirror, IGN and Gamespot all releasing stories about the game console and its fear-inducing guardians (other celebrations have also earned some sarcastic coverage on Twitter and Mother Jones believes the stunt is another example of shark-based fearmongering because it’s very unlikely that any of the 20 sand tiger sharks would attack anyone who went in to retrieve it). But none of these publications have commented on the growing trend of sharkvertising (or is it sharketing?), a creative niche that has made the serrated smile of these much-maligned creatures an appealing theme in advertising.  

In South Africa, the paparazzi often snap photographs of sharks minding their own business. Sometimes these images are used for commercial gain, invariably without the consent of the man in the grey suit.

This trend has also spread to Portugal, where seafood buffet lunches are seen as opportunity to exact revenge on our fishy nemesis.


This TVC, which shows that nicotine deprivation serves as an effective pain relief treatment, was slammed by American drug manufacturers, who said it was nothing more than an alternative therapy with no scientifically proven therapeutic benefits.

This controversial Russian TVC (viewer discretion advised, parental guidance recommended) has gone down in folklore as one of a handful of snuff advertisements. Various journalists have attempted to determine the whereabouts of the actress that’s devoured, but all inquiries have simply led to dead ends.    

When it comes to the esoteric arts of sharkvertising, sharketing and sharksploitation, no organisation is quite as adept as the promoters of Discovery Channel’s ever-popular Shark Week, with the team creating shark billboards, shark publicity stunts, shark TVCs, shark car wraps and, last but not least, shark buildings

Locally, DraftFCB promoted the premiere of ridiculous movie Sharknado on Prime with a massive in-joke on a crane in Ponsonby and a balsa-wood shark glider. 

And while it’s not an ad, sometimes sharks are not regarded as sufficiently menacing so, in such instances, modifications are deemed necessary. Taking inspiration from Dr Evil, Wicked Lasers attached freakin’ laser beams to the freakin’ dorsal fins of freakin’ sharks. 

Arthur Fonzarelli, the man whose stunt on Happy Days led to the coining of the phrase ‘jumping the shark’, would be proud. 

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