Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Any publicity is good publicity? I'm not sure about that in Boston today.

No matter who we are, we've all made a mistake in our lives. Some are bigger than others. If you are in PR/Marketing/Communications I'm sure you've said or done something during a launch or campaign or interview that you wished you hadn't done. You know you have. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but when it came down to it, it just didn't fly right.

Most times you can let the dud ideas just float away, never to be heard from again. It's a little harder now with the blogosphere, but even still, sometimes not great ideas just fizzle and go away.

I will bet that the people at Turner Broadcasting are wishing that their latest outdoor marketing campaign would just fizzle to the ground. But, when you, inadvertantly, succeed in closing the major highway and a river running through a city (Boston) because the local and state police have reports of bombs on bridges, well, it isn't going to fizzle away any time soon. (Note: bloggers had the story first, and photos....)

It's too bad that we need to live in a time where a silly Mooninite thinggie is seen as a threat, but when you are a marketing company putting 'angry looking' things on and under bridges these days, with electronic boards and LED lights no less, you run a big risk.

After the bomb squad went around today in a city that was in a little panic, Turner Network came out with this statement (copied from

The ''packages'' in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger.
They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities
in support of Adult Swim’s animated television show Aqua Teen
Hunger Force. They have been in place for two to three weeks
in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle,
Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Parent
company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and
federal law enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards.
We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger.
Shirley Powell SVP, Corporate Communications

Our new governor and the mayor of the city are not amused. Somehow I don't think that the police or the Coast Guard are amused either. And the folks who were stuck in traffic for 4 hours due to the highway being closed and those during the evening commute who couldn't get to points of the city do to road closures - well, they aren't amused either. I have to think that the officials in the 9 other cities aren't too amused right about now either.

Will this make people go search for this show and see what it is about on the internet? And will the added exposure be exactly what the marketing folks wanted? I just don't know...the 'jury' might be out on that one until they see if they are going to have any bills or fines to pay.

This will certainly go down as one of those marketing ideas that just didn't go the way the marketing team wanted, I'm sure. Woops!

Just a little tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.


Bitch Kittie said...

I realize that I'm a little dense. . . did they use Lite Brites?

Peace Out

K & K said...

This sure puts the whole pen thing in perspective as far as PR fiascos go, huh?

T-Guy J said...

Considering I get off the highway where the first "package" was found...I had very good reason to stay at the office a little bit longer than usual.

Way to go Cartoon Network

Donna Tocci said...

BK - from my understanding they were little boxes with little lights on them in the shape of a character, but they were black and had batteries taped to them with, what looked like on the news, black electrical tape and some wires running out of the taped area. Not the best idea, especially when you are putting them on bridges.

K&K - interesting thought!

t-guy j - sorry you had to deal with it 'up close and personal'. They have taken down their site today to issue a one page apology, if that makes you feel better. :(

Thanks to you all for stopping by.

Reva said...

My question is this....if the "ads" were in place for the last two weeks in ten cities, why were they not discovered until yesterday? Are we as a public not that observant or were they extra stupid and put the "ads" in places noone would notice? Either way, that is bad commentary on folks.

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Sometimes some very clever people come up with clever ideas that they and only they really understand and see a real value in. This is an example of top down failure to examine all angles and possibilities for a campaign. Somebody along the way should have said, "umm, is this really the best idea we could come up with?"

It is pretty interesting that the other cities involved were silent. It's interesting that news of the campaign was floating around somewhat weakly around the blogosphere for days and days. Why Boston had such a reaction is up to pure speculation at this point, but as one of the centers of the 9/11 tragedy, I can certainly understand why the city officials reacted the way they did.

Rick Brown said...

Would the guerrilla advertising have been ruined if they called police to let them know what was going on?