Turner Broadcasting Marketing Stunt Causes Terrorism Scare In Boston

moonite.jpg

We're not sure whether to laugh at or be concerned for Boston which got quite angry with Turner Broadcasting's for its ten city publicity stunt which, over the past two weeks, placed circuit board-like devices throughout each city, including Boston, to promote the the company's Cartoon Network Adult Swim Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Wednesday, all hell broke loose in the city of Boston when a commuter noticed one of the devices under a highway overpass above Sullivan Sqaure Station in Charlestown.

Bomb squads were called. Subways were shut down. Traffic was diverted. Newly seated Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, "It's a hoax and it's not funny." Boston Mayor Thomas Menino threatened legal action. All because a few promotional items were placed around the city.

Boston police have arrested Sean Stevens of Charlestown, MA and Peter Berdvosky, an Arlington, MA artist who told the Boston Globe he worked with New York-based marketing firm Interference Inc. to install the devices. A press conference has been scheduled for 9PM Wednesday night. Turner Broadcasting has issued a statement explaining their actions. There's a YouTube video that shows the neon-looking devices being installed at night.

Steve Dunlevey of Boston's Regan Communications thinks Turner should fly the president or Turner Broadcasting to Boston to personally apologize to Mayor Menino, to perhaps pay for expenses the city incurred removing the devices and to offer something to Boston residents for the inconvenience it caused. A Boston Globe editorial lambastes Turner for its stunt. And on and on and on and on.

Nary a peep was heard from the other nine cities that were part of the campaign.

UPDATE: Supporters of the two arrested men rallyed to their defense Thursday morning. The young and connected say the old and uninformed caused this to spiral out of control. The Boston Globe has full coverage of the event here.

UPDATE II: Check out the ongoing conversation in the Adrants Forum.

by Steve Hall    Jan-31-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Guerilla, Outdoor, Strange   

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Comments



Comments

I'm with Boston on this one. This is SHEER IDIOCY on the part of whatever marketing hacks thought this one up. Probably some idiot too-cool-to-understand-reality advertising goofballs. Come on.

I'm one of them, but Interference, Inc., the agency behind this mess, should be held totally responsible.

Is our industry THAT full of idiots?

Posted by: Dave on January 31, 2007 9:15 PM

A ridiculous over-reaction. This is the jump the shark moment for our post 9/11 world. Honestly. I can't believe this.

Also, this is not a "hoax." These things were not pretending to be bombs. That would be a different matter altogether.

People, this could be happening to you. Right now. A mayor and Homeland Security threatening to throw you in jail for years because of a silly stunt. You watch. Next time you mention "guerrilla campaign" in a client meeting, there will be shudders. We're going to have to think of a new euphimism.

We should rally for the firm that did this harmless campaign. Who will rally for you when your harmless guerilla idea shuts down a city because some idiots freaked out over nothing?

Posted by: TakeItEasy on January 31, 2007 9:57 PM

Great Ad campaign, It takes 2 or 3 weeks to be noticed.
They were placed on bridge abuttments, for crying out loud.
Why is it necessary to scare the crap out of everyone, for "Guerilla" advertising.
In this day and age you need to use common sense. How is anyone supposed to know they are harmless.
There were exposed wires and batteries showing .
Who is going to pay the people unable to do their jobs, because of road closures.
It cost close to a million dollars for security and to check out unknown objects.
Turner needs to step up to the plate and admit they made a BIG mistake.

Posted by: IdiotsRus on January 31, 2007 10:12 PM

Patheitc. Absolutely pathetic. The devices were very clearly nothing more than LEDs, batteries, and a small amount of circuitry needed to operate the sign. When I first heard of "packages" I had no clue that they weren't even really packages, let alone anything that resembles a bomb! Anyone who thinks this was a hoax is blind.

Posted by: Xargos on January 31, 2007 10:18 PM

But TakeItEasy, we're not talking a bunch of creatives used to seeing ambient media and guerilla stuff. Not sure wires, leds and lights are the same as chalk drawings around sidewalk cracks. Agree with it or not, there's still very much a heightened atmosphere of “better to be safe than..." Even airport screeners can just about tell a knife from nail clippers.

Posted by: makethelogobigger on February 1, 2007 12:10 AM

(talking about a bunch of)

Posted by: makethelogobigger on February 1, 2007 12:15 AM

I'm with Boston. Would it have been so hard to ask for a frickin PERMIT to post this stuff?? Is Interference Inc. too cool to follow basic public advertising procedure?? Or at least let law enforcement know about it beforehand? At least one was on government property--an elevated subway bridge.

Anybody who's been in an airport in the past, say, 20 years knows that a suspicious bag or package left lying around is fair game for the security goons to evacuate the terminal. So the geniuses behind this didn't think the police would take the same approach to a mystery device attached to a bridge??

Posted by: cdunlea on February 1, 2007 1:26 AM

regardless of whether or not this was ever a good idea, the somewhat disturbing fact is that Berdovsky (the one who placed the mooninites) is facing up to five years in jail for "placing a hoax device." If they can call these a hoax device, who knows what else could be considered a "hoax device." It definitely brings up interesting questions – pretty disturbing ones.

Posted by: daviddoctorrose on February 1, 2007 1:33 AM

Including the question of just why Berdovsky, and everybody else involved in the scheme, decided to let the city roil in panic for EIGHT HOURS before contacting authorities. Very responsible marketing.

It was a "hoax device" because in this day and age reasonable people should know the effect something like this will have on public safety. It's similar to yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre.

Posted by: cdunlea on February 1, 2007 1:39 AM

Hello..new to the site.

I just wanted to make my thoughts known as a rational American to other rational Americans. This tame and creative ad campaign was so absolutely pointless to have worried about, and it proves that Republican party fears of terrorism are still very much alive and kicking. The actions of January 31st by Turner Broadcasting was unique and interesting, hardly frightening. I speak simply for myself, but I feel too many uptight citizens that are living their lives day to day in fear of another terrorist action are doing so thanks to fear tactics by the American powers that reside within the White House. These were paranoid Americans frightened at the lit image of a cartoon character. Have we gone too far in paranoia? This should absolutely answer the question.

I for one feel sorry most for the artist that designed the ads for Adult Swim. If he reads this message, I give you kudos for being creative, especially if the 'viral' campaign in and of itself was your brainchild. Any clear-headed individual would know this ad has nothing to do with terrorism, because the items looked absolutely nothing like any bombs or the like. It was a Lite-Brite image of a cartoon! Would these same 'cry-wolfers' still fear if these were images of Mickey Mouse instead of Mooninites?

Once I saw an installation art piece in an Ohio art museum that did actually shock me. it was a simple museum's guard chair but underneath it was a replica of a pipe bomb. I would absolutely agree that this art piece would be in poor taste and for sheer shock value. The Mooninites ad campaign resembled a cartoon image, and in no way resembled anything else. Because of this, I would side with the artist, Turner, and Adult Swim.

To summarize, All I have to reiterate is that I give credit to those of whom it is due, namely the artist to create such a bold campaign and Adult Swim and Turner for allowing it. I wish those that feared for their lives in Boston a better, less fearful life in the future.

Feel free to email me back regarding either side of this story. I respect the thoughts of rational people.

Posted by: C. Majewski on February 1, 2007 2:19 AM

This probably happened because one paranoid person phoned the police. Once this happened, the police had to "act". Oooops, I mean "over-react". Are people in America really that scared? The fact is, the annual death toll from handguns in America EVERY YEAR is four times the number of people who died on 9/11 and yet NOTHING is done about that. People freak out because of a nonexistent bomb threat that any sane person would realize was a joke but won't think anything about walking in public where in any crowd of people in America someone is packing a lethal weapon. Has everyone in America lost their mind?

Posted by: johntoff on February 1, 2007 3:57 AM

The reason that other cities are not doing what Boston did is because they know that it is not a threat now.
The locations of the signs were pure stupidity. Why on earth would somebody stick one on a heavily travelled bridge like that? With the technology available, even the smallest, most innocent looking thing can be a very powerful explosive device. Boston did the right thing when they shut down the areas to investigate. It would have been MUCH EASIER if the people posting the signs would have actually told somebody about it. The reason that nobody in Seattle is taking any action is because they know what the signs are.
Oh yea...the last thing that we need are a bunch of signs flipping us the bird-it is not advertising, it is stupidity.

Posted by: seattledude on February 1, 2007 8:11 AM

Perhaps Turner should have gotten the permission from Boston City officials before placing these bomb looking devices on major roadways. Boston reacted correctly to these suspicious devices. If they didn't, then who knows what would have happened.

Posted by: Cherise on February 1, 2007 8:20 AM

//All because a few promotional items were placed around the city.//

Steve, I love this blog, but are you really high today. Boxes with wires and tubes protruding from the, were found placed UNDER BRIDGES, HIGHWAYS, AND SUBWAY TUNNELS.

During the day. When the cartoon character wasn't lighted up.

"All because a few promotonal items were placed around the city." Yeah, brilliant. Let's place suspicious boxes under high traffic areas.

Real smart.


Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2007 8:54 AM

I have been this industry - live events, PR stunts, promotions, etc. - for 7 years and the agency that I worked for during 6 1/2 of those years was always in the forefront of ensuring that almost everything that we staged, placed, installed or gave away had the blessing of someone from the markets we were in. The agency I am with now does execute some guerilla tactics but they are fairly tame - wild postings, a few chalk stencils here and there - but we also advise clients when we feel something they want to execute is reckless. I think it's our responsibilty to advise our clients of risks and potential outcomes. I have always communicated with my clients in "real world terms". We all have those clients who are living in "la-la land" but we can't blame them for our negligence. Regardless of whether or not you believe that the city of Boston is overreacting even a little they should not have placed anything on bridges or near the tunnels. Bostonians are easily annoyed and quick to temper (I grew up in NE and spent and Boston was my second "home")and the last thing any of us needs to do is post anything on our around bridges and tunnels.

Posted by: April on February 1, 2007 9:00 AM

I think its an over reaction, after all my lite brite never once exploded.

That said, i can see the reasoning of better safe then sorry and Turner should of got permission even if they wouldn't of gotten it. Although i don't think they should be charged with anything more than littering and possible negligence.

And the city should get its facts straight before claiming hoax.

Posted by: Scott on February 1, 2007 9:08 AM

//I think its an over reaction, after all my lite brite never once exploded.//

Did you ever place a bunch of them under bridges in a major city?


Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2007 9:10 AM

Boston is full of idiots.

Posted by: idiots on February 1, 2007 9:46 AM

I agree. Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Brandeis, etc. students make up over 50% of the population. No wonder Boston is a hotbed of intellectual laziness.


Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2007 10:12 AM

Anyone who thinks Boston over-reacted, please tell me - How do YOU think a city should react when foreign objects are discovered on BRIDGES and Major Landmarks like the Green Monster? "Oh these objects were clearly not bombs" Well that's just great - we're not allowed to bring liquids on to plans anymore b/c of the ever expanding explosive arsnel of terrorists - but apparantely there are people out there that can just eyeball FOREIGN objects and determine they are harmless. We need you guys working security at airports b/c I'm tired of having bad hairdays on overnight trips!

Posted by: Steve on February 1, 2007 10:12 AM

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Posted by: ariel on February 1, 2007 10:32 AM

I wish I could have a memory as short as yours, Ariel. It's would be so comforting.

Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2007 10:37 AM

Ask yourself - if you saw an object on a bridge in your city...couldn't determine what it was only that is was an electronic device...would you report it?

Posted by: Rufio on February 1, 2007 10:42 AM

Yes, because terrorists used LEDs to attack 'Merica and our freedom. I remember now, thanks for the memo Bob :)

Posted by: ariel on February 1, 2007 10:43 AM

Ask yourself - if you saw an object on a bridge in your city...couldn't determine what it was but only that is was an electronic device...would you report it? Nowadays - the people that are in charge of keeping us safe ask that you do

Posted by: Rufio on February 1, 2007 10:43 AM

Well, it was one ridiculous day here in Boston. I agree with others who say that this was an overeaction. These displays were up for two weeks all around the country, and yet we were the only city to experience widepsread panic (fueled, I should add, by media and police reports of an "IED"). The money quote comes from a story out of Seattle:

At least seven devices were found in two northeast Seattle suburbs.

One was found Tuesday by a Woodinville Public Works Department crew working on a rail trestle over State Highway 202, Woodinville Police Chief John McSwain said.
The crew took it down "and didn't even bother to call us" because the device didn't appear threatening, he said.
[....]
"In this day and age, whenever anything remotely suspicious shows up, people get concerned. And that's good," King County sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart said. "However, people don't need to be concerned about this. These are cartoon characters giving the finger."
My god, a reasonable reaction by a public official? As a Bostonian, I'm not quite used to the concept.
Posted by: Ben on February 1, 2007 10:45 AM

Glad that AFTER THE FACT, you could tell what those boxes under the bridges were, Ariel.

You should work airport security.

Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2007 10:45 AM

Get a permit. It's easy to do. I understand it is a serious offense to post anything on public goverment controlled property (state roads, bridges, utility poles). Even if noone freaked out it still was not proper protocol to put these things out.

Posted by: Betty Borderline on February 1, 2007 10:47 AM

Just as much as you should work in comedy, Bob :)

Posted by: ariel on February 1, 2007 10:48 AM

Get a permit. It's easy to do. I understand it is a serious offense to post anything on public goverment controlled property (state roads, bridges, utility poles). Even if noone freaked out it still was not proper protocol to put these things out.

Posted by: Betty Borderline on February 1, 2007 10:50 AM

Ha! I actually do, Ariel. Writer for a show you probably watch "daily."

Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2007 10:51 AM

I like Ann Handley's take on it, especially her 2 points at the bottom of her post:

http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2007/01/dot_bomb.html

Posted by: Ed on February 1, 2007 10:55 AM

I know, hence your hilarious replies of "you should work in airport security" have me wearing off the L's and the O's on my keyboard.

Posted by: ariel on February 1, 2007 10:59 AM

Great idea, poorly executed.
The person who found and reported the first "device" was an MBTA employee doing exactly what he was supposed to do -- report a suspicious package. It snow-balled from there, when people saw the package in the media and called the police to alert them of other packages.
Everyone involved should be held accountable -- instead of jail time they should all have perform community service cleaning up graffiti in Boston in January and February!

Posted by: Cheryl on February 1, 2007 11:06 AM

No one likes you Bob.

Posted by: boob on February 1, 2007 11:22 AM

I heard from a source in Boston that a cherry picker and the state police were involved in putting up the sign in question that started the whole episode. It was over a state highway. This was not a stealth placement.

Posted by: Erik on February 1, 2007 11:47 AM

I think Steve did it just to drive traffic here.

;-p

It still goes to context though. If this happens in a small market away from the Northeast, then maybe people are less likely to freak. But where do we draw the line with being alert for shit like this. We used to laugh off threats from high school kids as idle talk, but after Columbine, every threat on myspace with a 'list' gets urgent attention.

So to this stuff in and around the NY/DC/Boston areas. Is it an overreaction, yeah, ok, granted. But considering all the collective shit we give any airport screener, police or other for failing to pick up the obvious, maybe we made them all so paranoid that the mindset is to err on the side of being overly vigilent.

Still, overreaction or not, Turner needs to pick up the tab. Why should taxpayers pay for it?

Posted by: makethelogobigger on February 1, 2007 12:03 PM

Your "source" is incorrect. The state police do not do advertising work on details.

And it becomes a stealth placement whenever items are attached to government property without permit or notification.

And I don't think anybody here would be laughing if one of these devices were found on, say, the Empire State Building--especially if it happened to fall on a September 11 anniversary.

Posted by: cdunlea on February 1, 2007 12:43 PM

Aquateen's ratings will skyrocket, at least temporarily.

This is hilarious for those of us who watch the show - the overreaction is totally in line with something that might happen in ATHF's world. Anyone see the "Boost Mobile" product placement episode.

As someone whp works in the world of guerilla marketing (and knows some of the folks involved here), I can vouch that clients (even big blue-chip clients) ask us to push the envelope with stunts like this. I had a major retailer recently ask us to "drop things out of planes" and come up with edgy, publicity-garnering stunts "possibly even illegal ones."

Granted, its our responsibility as executors to draw a sensible line. The ATHF gig was one where, in most cases, the locations the client wanted would have gotten a thumbs-down for permitting, since the governing bodies (DOT, MBTA, etc) in most cases doesn't have the right to sell their infrastructure to advertisers - other than established billboards, etc. The purpose of this campaign was obvoiusly to have the electroluminescent Mooninites show up in unexpected, high-visibility locations.

At the end of the day, the campaign will have gone the long way around the barn to score new viewers for CN. Hopefully no one goes to jail in the process...

Posted by: imnotsayin on February 1, 2007 12:58 PM

Aquateen's ratings will skyrocket, at least temporarily.

This is hilarious for those of us who watch the show - the overreaction is totally in line with something that might happen in ATHF's world. Anyone see the "Boost Mobile" product placement episode.

As someone whp works in the world of guerilla marketing (and knows some of the folks involved here), I can vouch that clients (even big blue-chip clients) ask us to push the envelope with stunts like this. I had a major retailer recently ask us to "drop things out of planes" and come up with edgy, publicity-garnering stunts "possibly even illegal ones."

Granted, its our responsibility as executors to draw a sensible line. The ATHF gig was one where, in most cases, the locations the client wanted would have gotten a thumbs-down for permitting, since the governing bodies (DOT, MBTA, etc) in most cases doesn't have the right to sell their infrastructure to advertisers - other than established billboards, etc. The purpose of this campaign was obvoiusly to have the electroluminescent Mooninites show up in unexpected, high-visibility locations.

At the end of the day, the campaign will have gone the long way around the barn to score new viewers for CN. Hopefully no one goes to jail in the process...

Posted by: imnotsayin on February 1, 2007 12:58 PM

Aquateen's ratings will skyrocket, at least temporarily.

This is hilarious for those of us who watch the show - the overreaction is totally in line with something that might happen in ATHF's world. Anyone see the "Boost Mobile" product placement episode.

As someone whp works in the world of guerilla marketing (and knows some of the folks involved here), I can vouch that clients (even big blue-chip clients) ask us to push the envelope with stunts like this. I had a major retailer recently ask us to "drop things out of planes" and come up with edgy, publicity-garnering stunts "possibly even illegal ones."

Granted, its our responsibility as executors to draw a sensible line. The ATHF gig was one where, in most cases, the locations the client wanted would have gotten a thumbs-down for permitting, since the governing bodies (DOT, MBTA, etc) in most cases doesn't have the right to sell their infrastructure to advertisers - other than established billboards, etc. The purpose of this campaign was obvoiusly to have the electroluminescent Mooninites show up in unexpected, high-visibility locations.

At the end of the day, the campaign will have gone the long way around the barn to score new viewers for CN. Hopefully no one goes to jail in the process...

Posted by: imnotsayin on February 1, 2007 1:00 PM

Aquateen's ratings will skyrocket, at least temporarily.

This is hilarious for those of us who watch the show - the overreaction is totally in line with something that might happen in ATHF's world. Anyone see the "Boost Mobile" product placement episode.

As someone whp works in the world of guerilla marketing (and knows some of the folks involved here), I can vouch that clients (even big blue-chip clients) ask us to push the envelope with stunts like this. I had a major retailer recently ask us to "drop things out of planes" and come up with edgy, publicity-garnering stunts "possibly even illegal ones."

Granted, its our responsibility as executors to draw a sensible line. The ATHF gig was one where, in most cases, the locations the client wanted would have gotten a thumbs-down for permitting, since the governing bodies (DOT, MBTA, etc) in most cases doesn't have the right to sell their infrastructure to advertisers - other than established billboards, etc. The purpose of this campaign was obvoiusly to have the electroluminescent Mooninites show up in unexpected, high-visibility locations.

At the end of the day, the campaign will have gone the long way around the barn to score new viewers for CN. Hopefully no one goes to jail in the process...

Posted by: imnotsayin on February 1, 2007 1:28 PM

sorry! was getting an error-not connecting message :P

Posted by: i'mjustsayin [TypeKey Profile Page] on February 1, 2007 1:30 PM

Your post wasn't good the first time.

Posted by: imsayin on February 1, 2007 1:52 PM

Okay, after seeing the news conference with the two artist guys hired to post the signs. I've changed my mind.

Fry 'em.

(It's always the vendors that f**k up relationships.)

They could have said "sorry for the trouble."

Posted by: TakeItEasy on February 1, 2007 2:12 PM

//No one likes you Bob.//

I just laughed coffee out of my nose.

Are you one of the AEs at my office, or one of my clients?

Probably my mom, actually.


Posted by: Bob on February 1, 2007 2:23 PM

I spent 8 years active duty with the USMC and have spent the past 11 as a reserve while working in the ad industry. I have served two six month tours in Iraq in the last 4 years. You want to know what one of the bad guys favorite devices to make IEDs is - children's toys. Dolls, trucks, buckets, hats, etc. A believe a Lite Brite falls into that category. If you can think of it, they can make it. A book, a crumbled up bag, a dead dog, a soilders helmet.

I don't think the response in Boston was an overreaction, I think the press follow-up was. I think the people responsible should have thought this through a little better, but should not be held accountable. I would rather be safe than sorry.

No ariel, the bad guys are not currently using LEDs as IEDs to attack us on our own soil, but this gives them a lesson in how to do so. How long such devices can lay dormant, where they can be placed, what type of common items will not draw attention, what the first responder time is once they are discovered. The list goes on.

Posted by: beenthere on February 1, 2007 2:39 PM

TakeItEasy just saw the video on the press conference

No kidding, huh? these guys are idiots. If they acted a little penitent, I think the city would of dismissed them as pawns and gone after the Turner exec's. Now Turner can say "see these 2 are jackasses, it was all a big joke to them...none of it was our idea"

b/c they are joking about it I think the city will feel compelled to make an example of them to make people take this seriously.

Peter, sean, I bet the guys in the joint like pretty boys with 70's haircuts!

Posted by: fusebos on February 1, 2007 2:44 PM

These lite brite's were placed in 9 other cities- none of whom felt it necessary to shut down over them. In NY, the most devastated by 9/11 and terrorist antics no one felt it necessary to flip out over these promotional signs.

How is it possible that in a city of over 50 colleges not one person has seen ATHF!? seriously?
Man, you guys really are m@ssholes...

repeat after me:
I am. sofa king. We todd ed.

Try it a little faster...
-ATHF season 1

Posted by: NY media. on February 1, 2007 3:47 PM

Now that I think of it, Turner was probably trying to one-up Jane in tyhe press after seeing her at all those protests this past weekend.

Posted by: makethelogobigger on February 1, 2007 3:56 PM

I honestly think it was blown way out of proportion. They look nothing like bombs and they have cartoon characters on them. But then again, I love the show and would have recognized it from a mile away. Poor placement though. Although, come to think of all the press they are getting, maybe not so much. And them calling it a hoax is just ridiculous. I just wish I could have got one before they removed them all.

//repeat after me:
I am. sofa king. We todd ed.
Try it a little faster...//
I almost pissed myself after seeing that episode!

Posted by: blah on February 1, 2007 4:11 PM

http://tinyurl.com/2k8bta

Posted by: woodenlunch on February 1, 2007 4:50 PM

Bravo...a wonderful, though unexpected, response to a well thought out guerrilla campaign!

Posted by: TheAdGuy on February 1, 2007 4:53 PM

Only after the campaign became a security issue, it got any attention... Which makes it a poorly thought out campaign. 9 cities? I wonder how many impressions this has created (pre-bomb scare)? Zero? Regardless where they were placed (high traffic areas), it did little to show support for the upcoming movie. Aren't these campaigns designed to reach mass audiences for a little budget? As advertisers and/or artists, we need to really look at the effectiveness (and risks) of such stunts before we act. Yes, and that includes taking note of the stupidity that surrounds us. Anyone from those planting the devices up to the highest client official who agreed to the campaign should be fined only to compensate for the city losses.

On the other hand, it wasn't intelligent for them to smile and laugh on their way to court, fold their hands and act like fools, wave to cameras, and talk "only about hair" to the media outside. For the stupidity, they should be jailed. Maybe then will they understand restraint and humility rather making it more of a nightmare for all other parties involved. Let's be a bit more professional

Posted by: mediaplanner on February 1, 2007 5:06 PM

I might add that the campaign, as stupid as it was, will sell seats in the movie cinemas. Now it isn't just a 9 city pathetic campaign... It is national and has become viral on the web too (/points at all of us).

Posted by: mediaplanner on February 1, 2007 5:11 PM

Bad, bad, bad idea.

Posted by: media vp on February 1, 2007 5:34 PM

Bad, bad, bad idea.

Posted by: media vp on February 1, 2007 5:42 PM

Ordinarily, I try to stay out of discussions as ridiculous and uninformed as this one, but imnotsayin's comments have me a little riled up.

Maybe I just fell off the turnip truck, but it seems to me that if your employers are asking you to break the law, maybe you should start seeking other employment; lest you end up like those two poor bastards rotting in jail on Ted Turner's account.

Guess what, champ: you're not the only guy reading this blog who's done "gureilla" (or "ambient media" or whatever stupid buzzword you'd prefer). But those of us who work for legitimate agencies still pay for placement, or obtain a permit, or at least show a minimum level of respect for the laws and standards of the communities in which we work. Which includes recognizing that the people who respond to calls about unidentified objects stuck to bridges have ZERO sense of humor. These people don't make jugement calls. They follow procedeures.

Ad folks, we're in serious need of a reality check. This shit ain't "edgy." It is, as someone once put it, "Sofa king. We-todd-ed."

Posted by: rushing on February 1, 2007 7:01 PM

this is a typical campaign from good old sam ewen and his firm interference. they create guerrilla campaigns that are small/insignificant and get "exposure" for them by calling the media. they did this when they executed the sony camera phone campaign with the "fake tourists" asking people to take their photos (a campaign that I heard they stole from another agency). while the approach would impact only a couple thousand people, the press was informed (hmmm, I wonder how) and it got national exposure. they did the same thing when they executed the "butterfly" campaign for microsoft (remember that?). they placed butterfly icons throughout the city illegally and called the press about it. it backfired when they were fined. come on, this is simply an irresponsible, one trick pony (create something and leak it to the press) "agency." funny enough, they continue to get themselves and their clients in trouble. keep an eye on them and you will continue to see their client list dwindle - it's already gone from microsoft and sony...to work on zero-budget cable programs...

Posted by: john on February 1, 2007 7:54 PM

this is a typical campaign from good old sam ewen and his firm interference. they create guerrilla campaigns that are small/insignificant and get "exposure" for them by calling the media. they did this when they executed the sony camera phone campaign with the "fake tourists" asking people to take their photos (a campaign that I heard they stole from another agency). while the approach would impact only a couple thousand people, the press was informed (hmmm, I wonder how) and it got national exposure. they did the same thing when they executed the "butterfly" campaign for microsoft (remember that?). they placed butterfly icons throughout the city illegally and called the press about it. it backfired when they were fined. come on, this is simply an irresponsible, one trick pony (create something and leak it to the press) "agency." funny enough, they continue to get themselves and their clients in trouble. keep an eye on them and you will continue to see their client list dwindle - it's already gone from microsoft and sony...to work on zero-budget cable programs...

Posted by: same old story on February 1, 2007 7:55 PM

this is a typical campaign from good old sam ewen and his firm interference. they create guerrilla campaigns that are small/insignificant and get "exposure" for them by calling the media. they did this when they executed the sony camera phone campaign with the "fake tourists" asking people to take their photos (a campaign that I heard they stole from another agency). while the approach would impact only a couple thousand people, the press was informed (hmmm, I wonder how) and it got national exposure. they did the same thing when they executed the "butterfly" campaign for microsoft (remember that?). they placed butterfly icons throughout the city illegally and called the press about it. it backfired when they were fined. come on, this is simply an irresponsible, one trick pony (create something and leak it to the press) "agency." funny enough, they continue to get themselves and their clients in trouble. keep an eye on them and you will continue to see their client list dwindle - it's already gone from microsoft and sony...to work on cable programs with $50K budgets. what's next for them? promoting a local zoo in jersey

Posted by: same old story on February 1, 2007 7:58 PM

I think the attention given to the ATHF movie because of this is absolutly incredible. I also agree that this sort of reaction/story fits in perfectly with the style of the show, and fans of the show probably appreciate the humor in all of it as well.

They definately should have gone ahead and gotten permission to place these where they did place them, due to the fact that they are "higher risk" targets that all of these things appeared in. I think the city took proper measures when dealing with this situation. I'm guessing with the possibility of something being a bomb, the consequences of NOT taking action would have been more severe than what happened when taking action. We laugh now knowing they were crude lightbrites, but you just never know until getting a closer look, and I'm positive someone didn't volunteer to run over and say, "no look, it's fine, watch me flick the switch!"

It;s just that type of world right now where plenty of people have fallen back into the "everything's fine" mode and plenty of people are still in the "we need more security" mode. Certain agencies just need to be more aware of the possible reactions to things like this. Of course, a reaction this large was probably never considered as even a possibility... and if it was, then they should definately be responsible for the half million dollars spent diffusing the situation (pun intended).

Posted by: Patrick on February 2, 2007 1:06 AM

Rushing,

Sorry you had to lower yourself to such an "uninformed" and ridiculous discussion. The facts about this story are pretty cut and dry, so I'm not exactly sure what you mean. Maybe you know for a fact that Interference intended for the ads to be mistaken for bombs. If not, I can't see how you made the discussion any less "ridiculous" or informed. Every point you made has been made already. They're called opinions. Hop back on the turnip truck.

Posted by: woodenlunch on February 2, 2007 4:25 PM

Re: woodenlunch

The point I made was in specific response to a post that seemed to endorse and justify illegal activities by marketing firms which, in my opinion, are harming the professional credibility of the entire industry. I don't believe anyone else opined on that particular issue.

By ridiculous and uninformed, I was referring to posts by people who seem to think that the presence of a cartoon character should cause authorities to take a terror threat tip any less seriously.

Apologies for my tone. And I do, now and again, enjoy a good turnip.

Posted by: rushing on February 2, 2007 5:53 PM

"the bad guys are not currently using LEDs as IEDs to attack us on our own soil, but this gives them a lesson in how to do so"--I agree with this statement. I believe that the Boston officials are angry because they wasted the time and money and now feel stupid. I mean how can you detonate the device when there wasn't anything to detonate? Anyway although I believe Boston overreacted and that Turner should not have to pay millions of dollars to Boston. I do believe that this stunt given the media attention has given the real terrorists something to think about doing. Now if we see something like this again it will be something to panic about but I fear we won't think anything about it. It is now like crying wolf.

Posted by: KC on February 2, 2007 6:55 PM

Okay so America lives in fear right??? There could be a paper bag on the subway and someone would think it looks suspicious, come on people how come none of the other cities were fearful of the light brights. People of Boston just so badly want somethong to happen, dont we have anything better to do with our time than call 911 on everything that looks out of place here in the city??????? Now the cost for Ted Turner is 2 million dollars, Yeah more money to go towards mayor Menino and his down syndrome like face. This city is a disgrace. Ted Turner should of told boston to kiss his ass.

Posted by: andrea on February 5, 2007 6:26 PM

Okay so America lives in fear right??? There could be a paper bag on the subway and someone would think it looks suspicious, come on people how come none of the other cities were fearful of the light brights. People of Boston just so badly want somethong to happen, dont we have anything better to do with our time than call 911 on everything that looks out of place here in the city??????? Now the cost for Ted Turner is 2 million dollars, Yeah more money to go towards mayor Menino and his down syndrome like face. This city is a disgrace. Ted Turner should of told boston to kiss his but.

Posted by: andrea on February 5, 2007 6:27 PM

Doesnt Boston have anything better to do with their time???? Everything looks like a suspicious package around here, there could be a paper bag on the T and it would be called suspicious. Ted Turner shouldnt pay us a dime. Mennino is a disgrace if he was the mayor of New York they would throw rotten fruit at him everytime he speaks in public. No other towns thought anything of the 7 year old lite bright toys. Come on people

Posted by: andrea on February 5, 2007 6:30 PM

I hope we get a full analysis of why the other 9 cities didn't go into a panic.

And, no matter what the ethical considerations, you can easily say that Boston was the only city in which the campaign was effective – and it cost a hell of a lot less than a SuperBowl ad while reaching many many more people, around the world. I heard a report in a news broadcast on the BBC.

Posted by: Tim Orr on February 6, 2007 12:29 PM

As a former US Army Special Forces solider, I can tell you that bombs work a lot better in urban areas when they don't look like something from a James Bond movie- with a countdown clock etc.
As an ad agency that does some guerrilla marketing- I can safely say- this wasn't a good idea. Turner is now paying a 2 million dollar fine.
I wrote a small piece on Guerrilla Marketing and the Golden Rule:
http://www.thenextwave.biz/tnw/?p=293
I won't be surprised when these "performance artists" end up in jail- even though the people at Interference and Turner Broadcast Systems should be right there with them.

Posted by: David Esrati on February 7, 2007 11:51 AM

Move to BOSTON the city free of advertising! You can rest assure that our diligent police department are working around the clock to protect you the citizen from harmful TV ads.

Your tax funds are hard at work improving the bomb squad’s knowledge of ulterior advertising methods and how to carefully disarm them before they become a city wide disaster.

Maybe next year they will work on fighting real terror instead of creating it.

Posted by: minx0 on February 9, 2007 11:16 AM

Move to BOSTON the city free of advertising! You can rest assure that our diligent police department are working around the clock to protect you the citizen from harmful TV ads.

Your tax funds are hard at work improving the bomb squad’s knowledge of ulterior advertising methods and how to carefully disarm them before they become a city wide disaster.

Maybe next year they will work on fighting real terror instead of creating it.

Posted by: minx0 on February 9, 2007 11:17 AM

Move to BOSTON the city free of advertising! You can rest assure that our diligent police department are working around the clock to protect you the citizen from harmful TV ads.

Your tax funds are hard at work improving the bomb squad’s knowledge of ulterior advertising methods and how to carefully disarm them before they become a city wide disaster.

Maybe next year they will work on fighting real terror instead of creating it.

Posted by: minx0 on February 9, 2007 11:17 AM

David Esrati has just made my list of people I hope never to be in a position of power more than managing a McDonalds. Yes, I want frys with that David.

Wether or not the method used was a "Good idea" is not the big issue. The fact that trained police & officials used an estimated 800,000 of tax payer funding to remove 39 tv show ads from the city is frightening (I would have done it for $100). Secondly the fact that they've tried to twist this into a terrorist plot is... gosh stupid comes to mind.

Posted by: RGent on February 9, 2007 11:26 AM

It should be noted that in spite of near-100% worldwide "AWARENESS," this WSJ ONLINE report came across my desk yesterday:

"Among the show's core 18-34 set, little attention was paid: Viewership slipped 1.4% from the previous week, although Adult Swim overall saw a 20% jump."

If Boston had responded the way the other 9 cities did, this would truly have been a non-event.

And even at that, it's looking like a very bad investment. A SuperBowl spot would have cost more and produced less "AWARENESS." Maybe we should rethink why it is that "AWARENESS" is regarded as the holy grail of advertising, and instead consider what really makes people take action.

Posted by: Tim Orr on February 9, 2007 12:27 PM

Glad to see RGent thinking he is qualified as a bomb disposal expert. We need to clean out the gene pool.
"Guerrilla Marketing" doesn't give you permission to do whatever you want. You can't paint graffiti at will (sony) or stick cling-ons everywhere (microsoft)- or put flashing boxes of light bulbs on bridges, tunnels etc.

Posted by: David Esrati on February 9, 2007 1:17 PM

You know pre 9/11 you would think they are just over reacting but since then you can never be too careful with all this newspaper printing of terrorist attacks.

Posted by: Larry on May 22, 2007 6:20 PM

9/11 has caused a great big scare!

Posted by: Student Loans on May 26, 2007 11:12 PM

You are right on Larry!

Posted by: Acne on June 2, 2007 12:42 AM

Thanks for the nice post!

Posted by: Michael on September 10, 2007 9:07 AM




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