Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I recently took the family to Orlando to experience the wonders of Disney World, Epcot Center, Universal Studios, Sea World and a really good outlet mall. We crammed a year’s worth of amusements into five muggy days and everyone had a great time…except my teen-aged daughter who spent the majority of the trip texting her boyfriend and complaining that humidity was making her hair frizz.

My own enjoyment was nearly thwarted by the confusing accommodations. We decided to stay at a Disney property (when in Rome) with two hotels called The Swan and The Dolphin. As we pulled up, I was struck by the vision of a giant concrete swan perched atop a peach colored building—a little on the nose perhaps, but Disney is nothing if not literal…or so I thought. What I saw next both perplexed and infuriated me. As we continued down the drive, approaching The Dolphin Hotel, I was taken aback to see balanced atop a similarly hued building, what appeared to be a giant…fish! What?! This couldn’t be right. Perhaps there was a third hotel on property called “The Bass” or “The Carp.” My taxi driver assured me that this was indeed the famous Dolphin Hotel and that the creature sitting on top of the structure was in fact, a dolphin. Well, I’m no marine expert, but what I was looking at was quite clearly a fish.

Now I realize that old Walt liked to play with the idea of animals who could talk, wear clothes and otherwise act without regard to the limitations of their species, but at least Mickey looks like a mouse, Donald is quite clearly a duck and Goofy is…well, never mind. The point is, a dolphin is a mammal that breathes air and is known for its intelligence, while a fish is sushi. How am I supposed to explain that to my six year old when right there on top of our hotel called, “The Dolphin,” is a fish…with scales and gills? Disney cost me about thirty-seven hours of answering the question, “why?”

I asked several cast members, otherwise known as hotel employees, about the fish/dolphin controversy and was greeted with the cheerful response that the “fish” was in fact the artist’s rendering of a dolphin. Well, I don’t know who the artist was but he should have his chisel revoked because the animal is a carp, or maybe a bass but it is not a dolphin*.

Not one to take such things lying down, I send 150 Devon & Jones Short Sleeve Tees imprinted with a picture of Flipper and the message, “THIS is a dolphin” to the entire cast of The Dolphin Hotel. It made me feel even better than the $200 I spent on a massage.

Well, I’m off to prepare for my next meeting—I’ve been asked to host the annual armadillo race in Texas and I’ve got to work on my speech. Until next time, remember, “a horse is a horse of course of course…and a fish is never a dolphin.”

*An equally outraged, yet charming, friend informed me later that the animal atop the hotel is a dolphin fish, which, we agreed, would make perfect sense if the hotel were called, “The Dolphin Fish, which it is not.”