Discovery Promotes Shark Week with Giant Shark Balloon

The Discovery Channel is using a novel approach to promote its 19th annual "Shark Week," scheduled to run from July 27 to August 4. Five giant balloons adorn corporate headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, making it look like a giant great white shark has torn through the building. The balloons, positioned on four sides of the building near its top floors, with another on the roof, appear as the head, tail, dorsal fin and lateral fins of the fierce, much-feared predator.

"It's 446 feet long, 200 feet wide, and 112 feet tall," says Julie Willis, senior vice president of marketing, noting that these are the correct proportions of an actual great white shark. The right sizes were calculated by creating a model of the building, then tinkering with various shark overlays. Once Discovery produced an accurate rendering of the beast, "we cut the fabric with a big robot arm, it was sewn together, then painted by a team of professional airbrush artists," she says.

The finished product, a convincing shark look-alike in shape and coloration, should be visible from nearby roadways. "We're at the intersection of a major state road and a major county road," says Willis, who adds that the shark went through approval processes with state and county authorities. The giant shark will be visible in downtown Silver Spring, too.



Discovery is very interested in "new and exciting ways of generating interest," Willis says. From July 27-30 in New York, word-of-mouth, guerrilla-style promotion will have Discovery teams waylay people with shark-related trivia and questions. Plus, a Shark Week Web site will offer this information, as well as video, online games, and prizes.

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