Open Letter To Disney: Are You Moinotring The Consumer Conversation?

Posted: June 21, 2008 in Social Media, Society & Culture
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Disney Sharkfin Artwork by Geert-Jan VonsThis is from an email that I just sent to Disney’s investor relations department. I am now publicly posting it as a letter to Bob Iger and the board of directors at The Walt Disney Company. Are you listening?


To: Bob Iger, The Board of Directors & the CMO of The Walt Disney Company –

It has come to our attention that through your subsidiary ESPN, that Disney is supporting an environmental atrocity. You are violating the three pillars of your stated environmental responsibility code – Conservation, Education & Action. In fact, you are accomplishing the opposite as detailed below. This is unacceptable and must stop.

From your code of ethics:

“Environmentality was established as a fundamental ethic designed to blend the company’s business needs with the corporate-wide conservation of natural resources. Adherence to this philosophy helps us attain our strategic goals while demonstrating that environmental stewardship can work-in-hand with the protection of Disney’s assets and enhanced profitability.”

ESPN2 has a smoke & mirrors shark tournament series called “Quiznos Madfin“:

This series claims to be friendly to the sharks because it is all catch & release. This is nonsense. Most of the sharks that are released will die slowly of starvation from damage from the hooks that end up in their stomachs or ripping apart their jaws.

You can read about the damage that the image of shark tournaments here.

Granted – the ESPN2 tournament is not as visually brutal, but what you do not see in your own footage is what we are concerned about – again, many of the sharks will still die. Also, this sends a message that shark tournaments are morally acceptable when indeed they are outrageously unacceptable.

This is not the first time that the Walt Disney Company was involved in a shark related issue. Just two years ago, Disneyland Hong Kong was also in violation of the corporate code of ethics, although at odds with local tradition, for serving shark fin soup at its restaurant. The soup has since been removed from the menu after a backlash from consumers, the media, and stockholders worldwide, and likewise – This program must be pulled from the air and the web.

I have included senior management from the Humane Society of The Unites States on this communication. I am working closely with them on this particular issue.

I will be dumping my Disney stock and I will be telling everyone I know to do the same. I will not support Disney and will ensure through my many media contacts that this story is exposed as Disney’s involvement in an environmental atrocity. I expect a response with Disney’s position on this matter. Please first confirm receipt and acknowledge that this email will be delivered to Bob Iger and the board of directors as well as your CMO and environmental compliance officer.

I am a well respected long time executive in the media business. I am prepared to take this message public, as well as Disney’s lack of response if that turns out to be the case. At the very least I expect an official position to my inquiry within 7 days.


Jason Heller

Are you listening…

(Disney Sharkfin Artwork by Geert-Jan Vons)

  1. Andrea Tinney says:

    Dear Bob Iger,

    What a sad day it is when disney,who has represented kids for so many years is now supporting the destruction of sharks. Sponsoring a shark fishing tournament is abhoring to me when you state you are in to protecting the enviroment. These tournaments are cruel to the sharks and what the fisherment don’t mention is that a lot of the sharks die later due to the build up of lactic acid. I hope that disney will reconsider supporting such events.


    Andrea Tinney

    Remember….Extinction is forever!!!!!

  2. Dear Mr. Iger:

    I back Mr. Hellers letter of protest fully, and would expect the Board of Directors of Disney to see to it that sponsoring shark tournaments ends immediately as such an insensible and reckless PR activity is not compatible with the company’s set of moral standards.

    I will follow this closely and trust that the Board of Directors of Disney will listen…

    Best regards,

    Wolfgang Leander

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