TORONTO — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne expressed concern Thursday about a marketing stunt that had people thinking a shark may be lurking in Lake Ontario.
A YouTube video purporting to show three men surprised by a shark while fishing off a dock was posted a week ago, but it was only on Wednesday that it was revealed to be a hoax.
Discovery Canada, which is owned by broadcasting giant Bell Media, said it was a fake shark and part of their marketing campaign to promote an upcoming series on the creatures.
Wynne wouldn’t comment on the tactic the company used, but said people who produce ads and promote them need to use common sense when they try to entice or frighten people.
Everyone needs to recognize that people can get scared by what they’re seeing and they need to know quickly what’s really going on, she added.
“There needs to be a quick enough turnaround that people don’t actually become terrified about what may or may not be happening,” she said.
Some local residents on Wolfe Island, where the video was supposed to have been filmed, said the video had frightened them.
One man said there are children who grow up swimming in those waters and he had to discuss the matter with his two young boys over the past week.
Upon learning the video was a fake, Wolfe Island Mayor Denis Doyle said it was rather concerning that people “do those kinds of such dumb things.”
The Ontario government was also dragged into the hoax, urging people to report any sightings of the finned creature so they could investigate if needed.
Those behind the fake video said they decided to come clean after seeing the frenzy of speculation sparked by the clip.
Discovery Canada president Paul Lewis said they didn’t expect it would cause any fear or upset, but was meant as a “fun summer stunt.”