Tag Archives: Wild Kingdom

Mutual Interest

August 18, 2015 by
Photography by Malone & Co.

This article appears in Summer 2015 B2B.

He didn’t curse like anyone on The Osbournes or have the sex drive of a 16 & Pregnant regular, but before any of those cast members staked their claim to fame there was Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

“Jim Fowler says it was the original reality TV show,” says Patty Malone. “It was really a new, forward-thinking kind of show different than anything else out there.”

Malone&Co2

Adds her husband, Mike: “They weren’t staging things for the most part. They set their cameras in the right place.”

Now the Malones are putting cameras in place with a Wild Kingdom reboot. The couple, principals in the commercial video and photography production company Malone & Co., are filming and producing webisodes of the iconic show, which ran Sunday nights from 1963 to 1988.

It’s been more than a quarter-century since the original show’s curtain call, but the name Wild Kingdom still resonates. “We run into people all over and they have very fond memories of that show, that time in their lives,” Patty says.

Mike has taken photos for Wild Kingdom sponsor Mutual of Omaha for more than 20 years, producing images for annual reports, other publications, and the web. When the insurance company celebrated 50 years of the show in 2013, it called again on his eight-person company to produce a 21st-century version of it.

The process began with a national search for a “wild guide” host. That was claimed by South Dakota native Stephanie Arne, a one-time intern at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

Malone’s team first produced a webisode on “Reef Madness,” exploring efforts to save coral reefs in the Florida Keys. Then came webisodes on buffalo in Custer State Park, the invasive Tegu lizard wreaking havoc in the Everglades, and on the California condor. The second season featured elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, and penguins. The third season, airing this spring, features leopards, sea otters, kangaroos, and manatees.

Episodes of the show, which has generated nearly 3.5 million views in three years, can be viewed at wildkingdom.com (as can clips from the orMalone&Co4iginal show).

The episodes usually are filmed within two to three days. Mike says he often has competing reactions to assignments: “The first one, of course, is, ‘This is great. We’re really excited to be doing this.’ Then it’s, ‘How the heck are we going to make this happen?’”

The longtime photographer had done some work with dogs and cats, and even cattle for an agricultural client. “Nothing this level,” though, he says.

His most memorable session so far, he says, was filming condors with assistance from the Ventana Wildlife Society. “Half a dozen flew over the top of us and the sound of the wind through their wings is really unforgettable. They made me a little intimidated, but they have no interest in you because you’re not a carcass.”

Malone&Co3

Thanks to his crew’s efforts, Wild Kingdom is alive and well, too.

There are differences from the original series with Marlin. Most notable, perhaps, is that episodes aren’t filmed in the wild. Rather, today’s Wild Kingdom partners with entities such as Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas, the Los Angeles and Dallas zoos, and California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium. Those entities provide access to, and expert information about, animals and habitat.

Also, the webisodes are shorter than what aired on television. Malone and Co. produce a handful of segments on each topic, those running from two to three minutes each. The company also creates rich, ready-made content for various social media channels, provides a photo gallery, and quick “Fast Facts” videos with the bubbly, energetic Arne.

What’s similar? The same great animals and the same great storytelling.

“You can provide people both young and old an understanding of the animal kingdom,” Mike says. “That’s still the same. Especially young people watching these. We get a lot of feedback from teachers using these in the classroom.”

Malone&Co1

Bringing Community Responsibility to Life

May 25, 2013 by

Pythons. Hooded Pitahuis. Pygmy Marmosets.

Omaha is known by many across the nation because of Wild Kingdom, Mutual of Omaha’s primetime television show that brought animals to life in our living rooms.

But the show’s impact has been more profound for us (Omahans) than it has ecologically speaking. We identify with and claim the show’s reputation as our own. We feel community pride because, after all, it’s Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. This pride generates a strong sense of community responsibility. So maybe not coincidentally, community responsibility is accepted as one of the five Omaha City Values.

Wild Kingdom is one of the coolest examples in Omaha of what is called “traditional philanthropy.” This kind of philanthropy refers to the age-old practice of companies making cash donations or in-kind contributions to worthy causes. Most companies participate in traditional philanthropy because of their sincere desire to be involved in their communities and/or to give something back. Traditional philanthropy promotes reciprocity that produces important business benefits, including increased customer loyalty, higher employee retention, and enhanced corporate reputation.

As compared to traditional philanthropy, strategic philanthropy is a concept that has grown in prominence since the 1990s. This kind of charity involves a process where companies align their community relations initiatives with their core business products and services. Instead of a Wild Kingdom animal television show sponsored by an insurance firm (What’s the connection there?), corporations donate to specific community projects that align with their core competencies. For example, ConAgra does strategic philanthropy by focusing its charity on food and hunger issues, like Kids Cafés.

Some organizations are finding ways to impact their communities through employee engagement practices. Firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) recognize that young professionals crave choice. So they’ve created an innovative program for performance incentives that offers a choice to support a cause in their name. Every staff member gets to choose how they receive their incentive—cash, a charity match, a tech package, or a gift card. This is an ingenious way to bring community responsibility to life.

At the furthest end of the community responsibility spectrum are social enterprises. These organizations flip the capitalist model on its head. Maximizing profits is no longer the purpose of these businesses. Profit is a means to a broader end of enhancing the well-being of the community. Nonprofits, as well as for-profits like Herman Miller, Grameen, and PlanetReuse, are bringing community responsibility to life in this way. Their employees and clients are supporting their model with extreme loyalty.

From traditional philanthropy to social enterprise, we challenge Omaha businesses to continue to enjoy the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that come from bringing community responsibility to life. And don’t forget—a sense of community responsibility starts with our kids. One of the ways the Business Ethics Alliance has promoted this is with our team of moral superheroes who live in the Itty Bitty City at the Omaha Children’s Museum. Take your kids to the museum and kick-start their sense of community responsibility by spending time with superhero Reese.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is Executive Director of Business Ethics Alliance and Chair of Business Ethics & Society at Creighton University’s College of Business.