For every 637 shows that aim to be a popular hit, one actually launches into the zeitgeist so well that it becomes part of everyday talk. “You are the weakest link.” “Is that your final answer?” “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” Few shows in recent years have had the bewildering success of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, a summertime show that basically just follows sharks around for exactly seven days. For this reason, Volkswagen is proud to be involved with the hit program, because what better subliminal association can a company hope for than giant beings of terror and death?
People might be surprised to know that Shark Week was started in 1988, and has continued without interruption every summer since. We wonder why Discovery executives chose the summer of all seasons, when people are most likely to toss themselves and their children into ocean waves. Despite Richard Dreyfuss’s best pleas for humanity to come to their senses in the film “Jaws,” Americans seem to love two things: 1) knowing more about the predators who lurk in the depths, and 2) swimming in their territory anyway.
With four Jaws films, 16 years of Shark Week, and even a Universal Studios theme park ride so that even on dry land you can experience being eaten alive underwater, what is it about these creatures that fascinate us so? There are lots of scary things in the sea—jellyfish, squid, octopi, BP and Exxon-Mobil—and yet black eyes and sharp teeth are the ones that capture our imagination.
There is a certain majesty to the shark that is lacking in a jellyfish, a closer association that scares but doesn’t repulse as an octopus does. The mental image of a shark emerging from the shadows of the deep and then rushing forward with unavoidable speed can be experienced through a terrifying video published this week by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Last year Volkswagen offered viewers the chance to take a Volkswagen Beetle underwater for some ocean-floor motoring. The Beetle cage allowed interaction with sharks about as closely as you could imagine. This year VW is building on the experience by offering three games to learn more about sharks, interact with them in new ways, share your experience with family and friends, and even win prizes and Shark Week gear. Volkswagen’s Shark Week website—we’re guessing it goes live on Sunday—offers the above experiences so that fans can immerse themselves deeper into the culture of the ocean. Use the hashtag #vwsharkweek to connect even more.
Shark Week begins this Sunday, August 10 at 8 p.m. EST on the Discovery Channel.