Just when you thought it wasn't safe to go back into the water, sharks are bankrolling a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to persuade you that it is.
"We had an amazing summer of 2008, and that was with little or no advertising," says Danny Steinmentz, the ad wizard who oversees marketing for the nation's sharks. "Once our new spots roll out, summer of 2009 is going to be awesome."
Mr. Steinmentz says that the new commercials show swimmers frolicking in a beautiful blue ocean and feature the slogan, "Water: cool, refreshing, and safer than ever."
But Carole Foyler, executive director of the media watchdog group SharkTruth, is crying foul over the sharks' ads, which she claims are dangerously misleading.
"There's absolutely no mention of sharks anywhere in these ads," Ms. Foyler says. "In the interest of balance, there should be something in there that says, 'Oh, by the way, there are sharks in that cool, refreshing water, and sharks really like to bite your arms off."
Steinmentz defends his ads from such criticism: "At the end of each ad, there's a little thing that says, 'Remember, swim responsibly.' We think that covers it."
But Ms. Foyler and other anti-shark-advertising activists remain unconvinced.
"I'd like to know what ads they intend to run if, as predicted, we have a record number of shark attacks this summer," Ms. Foyler says.
"Frankly, if that happens, that just means that we've done our job well," says Mr. Steinmentz, who is now moving on to launch a new ad campaign for Bank of America.