A 2015 accident at one of its theme parks made Merlin Entertainments the subject of sensationalist media stories. Brunswick’s Fiona Micallef-Eynaud and Austin Rathe talk with the company’s leadership about their campaign to combat fiction with facts.
Poole, a sleepy seaside town in Dorset on the south coast of England, is the unlikely birthplace and headquarters of Merlin Entertainments, the second biggest attractions company in the world. The firm’s popular brands, which include LEGOLAND and Madame Tussauds, attract 67 million guests annually, and the company has exclusive rights to the intellectual property of world-famous brands such as Peppa Pig, LEGO and celebrity adventurer Bear Grylls.
CEO and co-founder Nick Varney has led the company since its start in 1998, transforming it from a business that owned a handful of UK attractions to one that now operates more than 120 attractions in 25 countries across four continents. Whether as a private company or a public one (Merlin listed in late 2013), the company’s narrative had been overwhelmingly positive—until 2015.