In what may go down as the stupidest PR stunt of the new century, a promo to hype Cartoon Network’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” backfired in Boston, bringing out Beantown bomb squads and irate politicos.
A street marketing firm called Interference had placed black boards festooned with blinking lights on bridge spans, roadways and subways to be noticed by commuters.
And they were.
“It went haywire. We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger,” said a statement from Cartoon parent Turner Broadcasting.
Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovosky, Massachusetts artists in the employ of Interference, were arrested on felony charges for placing the devices, which essentially caused a public panic and raised the hackles of Homeland Security.
The brouhaha is not likely to end there.
Whether suits are filed against Turner’s parent Time Warner or not, media companies are likely to take a closer look at their outsourcing of marketing initiatives to urban guerrilla outfits.
Similar nuisance campaigns by other media companies have been launched in the past few years in major markets, including a “Mission: Impossible” gag that went awry.
In that case, tiny music boxes were inserted in newspapers in Los Angeles, which when the papers were opened played the movie’s theme. But hyper city dwellers thought the boxes might be bombs.