Flipping off an entire city
Count the entire city of Boston hating marketers now, too. By now you've likely heard about the "guerilla" marketing tactic for the adult comedy "Aqua Teen Hunger Force". As part of the 10-city promotional campaign for the show--and a film set to be released later this year--these electronic circuit boards were placed all over the city in high-traffic areas, like under bridges and near subway stations (prime areas for terrorist attacks).
But the discovery of nine of the light boards around Boston and its suburbs sent bomb squads scrambling throughout the day, halting traffic, closing roads and subway stations. Talk about interruption marketing...
A bomb? The devices had wires and batteries which to many citizens connoted "bomb". According to CNN, "The devices displayed a 'Mooninite' -- an outer-space delinquent who makes frequent appearances on the cartoon -- greeting passersby with an upraised middle finger."
A billboard? Turner Broadcasting, the producer of the show, calls them "billboards" but the devices are actually blinking electronic circuit boards emblazoned with the characters--with Turner and agencies failing to get permits...or apprise city officials.
A botched response. Boston wasn't officially informed until 5pm and yet the first device was found at 8am. Oops! Boston-area Congressmen Markey said, "Scaring an entire region, tying up the T and major roadways, and forcing first responders to spend 12 hours chasing down trinkets instead of terrorists is marketing run amok. It would be hard to dream up a more appalling publicity stunt."
But an apropos name: The name of the ad firm? Interference.
They definitely got publicity and I'm all for getting creative and think the characters are quite cute BUT......let's delight not frighten people with our cool tactics, marketers (and sometimes it really is best to get permits). I'm sorry Boston.
P.S.: Something of note due to my own experience being a New Yorker that went through the mass-transit shutdown of 9/11 and the subway strike a couple years back--what is VERY easy to forget is when mass transit shuts down or is stalled it’s not just people getting to work that are inconvenienced. People also can’t get to chemotherapy treatments and to their children at school. We just can't imagine the ramifications until it happens. Some say the media and authorities overhyped this...I find it inexcusable that Turner Broadcasting waited until 5pm to respond.